Haitian relief fund founded by Mourning, Wade already raises over $800K for earthquake victims

By Tim Reynolds, AP
Monday, January 18, 2010

Mourning-Wade fund raises over $800K for Haiti

MIAMI — With retired NBA star Alonzo Mourning calling the initial wave of support “overwhelming,” the Haitian earthquake relief fund he co-founded with Heat star Dwyane Wade announced Monday that its pledge total has already surpassed $800,000.

Wade’s donation was a one-game salary, about $175,000, while Mourning, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul each pledged $100,000, fund officials said. The “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” began soliciting from pro athletes Friday.

“I expected nothing less from my friends and colleagues in the sports community,” Wade said in a release. “Our commitment to this cause knows no bounds, and we will continue to accept any and all donations throughout the days ahead.”

Mourning spent about 36 hours in Haiti last week, traveling with Miami-based Project Medishare, which has worked to bring health care to the nation for about 15 years. The retired All-Star worked at a makeshift hospital and assisted rescue workers and first responders in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince get badly needed supplies like water, food and medical equipment.

“It is the most devastating, deplorable images I’ve ever seen in my life,” Mourning said Monday in Memphis, Tenn. “(An) inhumane atmosphere to where we can only pray and do the best we can to assist those individuals.”

Mourning was in Memphis to receive the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award for contributions to civil and human rights before the Grizzlies played the Phoenix Suns

Mourning plans to return to Haiti on Tuesday. The Heat have also continued efforts to raise money and collect donations for the region.

“The response from our colleagues has been overwhelming,” Mourning said. “We accept these donations with complete confidence that Project Medishare will put each dollar to quick and efficient use.”

Project Medishare was started in the mid-1990s by prominent Miami doctors Barth Green and Arthur Fournier, both of whom have ties to Mourning. They helped arrange for him to go to Haiti last week, and the idea for the fund was quickly born.

Among the other NBA players announced as donors: Gilbert Arenas, Al Horford, Anthony Parker, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Ben Gordon, Mike Dunleavy, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Quentin Richardson, Devin Harris, Michael Finley, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Caron Butler.

Many of the NBA donors so far have with played with or are close friends with Wade, who said last week he was trying to get word to every player in the league about the cause. Several other players, including Philadelphia’s Samuel Dalembert, are organizing fundraising efforts of their own, and NBA itself has pledged money for Haitian relief.

“Since first learning of the tragedy in Haiti, I was intent on finding a way to help,” James said. “I feel fortunate to be in such a position to provide support and my heart and prayers continue to be with the people of Haiti.”

NFL players Michael Vick, Terrell Owens, Josh Cribbs, Wes Welker, Randy Moss and Clinton Portis also gave money, fund officials said. Welker, Cribbs and suspended NFL player Donte Stallworth all had Twitter play a role in their donation amounts, with Stallworth saying on his feed that he would give $1 for each person who was following him, or about $34,000.

“Follow & let’s help the people of Haiti together today!” Stallworth wrote.

On the Web:

Project Medishare: projectmedishare.org/

AP freelance writer Clay Bailey in Memphis, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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