Teams, players, personnel pledge money, energy to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti recover

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sports world comes together for Haiti relief

MIAMI — Retired NBA star Alonzo Mourning, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick and the Washington Redskins are among several athletes and sports organizations contributing to the recovery effort in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The NFL and the players’ union announced Friday that it would donate $500,000 each to the American Red Cross and Partners In Health, while the NBA and its union said it will contribute $1 million toward relief efforts.

Major League Baseball has already pledged $1 million, while the NHL donated $100,000.

Haiti native Samuel Dalembert of the Philadelphia 76ers taped a public service announcement for UNICEF encouraging fans to contribute. He also plans to address the crowd before the 76ers’ home game Friday, make a $100,000 donation to UNICEF and match the donations made by fans.

“I was going to go tomorrow morning but you have to get clearance. It’s not like you can go to Santo Domingo and drive,” said Dalembert, who now hopes to visit Haiti next week. “If I could fly myself, I would go over there after every practice. I am just waiting.”

The Comcast-Spectacor Foundation made a $10,000 donation to UNICEF, and Comcast-Spectacor — which owns the 76ers and Philadelphia Flyers — planned to air public service announcements.

The NFL and its network broadcast partners plan to run messages before and during this weekend’s playoff games to promote donations. The announcements will drive viewers to the Red Cross Web site and feature Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Chargers defensive end Jacques Cesaire. Both players have Haitian parents.

Hendrick Motorsports announced it was loaning an airplane and two flight crews to Missionary Flights International, which will send support teams in and out of Port-au-Prince. The first flight was scheduled to leave Fort Pierce, Fla., on Saturday morning.

Hendrick is covering all the flight costs. At least one roundtrip flight is planned per day with no timeline for how long the plane and personnel will be on loan.

The Redskins are also flying medical supplies, personnel and clothing into Haiti with help from Diageo, one of the team’s business partners.

“We’re not a relief organization, but there are times when our resources allow us to step in and make a difference, if only a small one,” Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said. “Getting the right people and supplies to Haiti is critically important.”

On Sunday on the eve of the Australia Open, Roger Federer and other tennis stars will hold a special exhibition event to benefit the victims. Federer said the admission price would be $10 at 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena.

World TeamTennis is donating clothing items for children through Kids in Distressed Situations, and Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said he is donating food and medical supplies. The Detroit Lions are donating $10,000 to the American Red Cross in the name of three players — Gosder Cherilus, Cliff Avril and Louis Delmas — who are of Haitian descent.

“We’re trying to get a fundraiser started right now,” Avril said. “Getting supplies is a concern for the whole country. There’s no clean water. A lot of people don’t have places to stay. Water and medicine is needed.”

The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday’s earthquake.

Mourning arrived in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince on Friday with Project Medishare, a Miami-based nonprofit agency that has worked since 1995 to provide quality health care in Haiti. He said in a statement first released to The Associated Press that athletes can “make a difference” for those affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks.

“The Haitian community has deep roots in Miami, a city which I have personally claimed as my own home for 15 years,” Mourning said. “As a longtime resident, I feel a profound sense of sadness for my many affected friends and neighbors.”

Mourning and former teammate Dwyane Wade are working together on a venture called the “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti.” The Heat have also announced plans to send money and supplies, asking fans to give in exchange for ticket vouchers to February games.

“As professional athletes, we experience the positive effects of teamwork every day,” Wade said in Houston, where the Heat were playing the Rockets on Friday night. “Today, our attention is turned to Haiti. While an individual donation is valuable, there is also a special strength found within the force of a unified effort.”

Greg McLaughlin, president of the Tiger Woods Foundation, said Friday that his staff was evaluating what it could do to help the relief effort. Rap mogul Russell Simmons said on Twitter that Woods was providing $3 million to help with the recovery.

“Our plan is to be part of the relief effort to help rebuild Haiti by supporting organizations that provide critical resources to young people, which is consistent with our mission and previous efforts,” McLaughlin said in a statement.

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