Players unions, boxers, downhillers coming to Haiti’s aid with donations, auctions

Friday, January 22, 2010

Players unions, other sports come to Haiti’s aid

WASHINGTON — Players unions for the four major sports leagues have started a campaign to support the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken country.

The “One Team 4 Haiti” project will urge supporters to text the word “team” to 20222, donating $10 for U.S. fans and $5 for Canadian ones. All the text funds will go to relief efforts, the campaign said Friday.

“Since the earthquake hit their country, the Haitian people, including friends and family of mine, have been through so much devastation,” said Georges Laraque, an NHLPA member who recently played for the Montreal Canadiens. “NHLPA members, together with the members of the NFLPA, MLBPA and the NBPA, hope that we can make a meaningful contribution and encourage sports fans across North America to join us in helping Haiti.”

Philadelphia 76ers center Sam Dalembert is planning another visit to Haiti to aid the relief effort. Dalembert, the NBA’s only Haitian-born player, was there on a two-day, goodwill mission earlier this week and wept as he spoke of homeless children and people in dire need of basic necessities.

Dalembert said he hoped to return to Haiti over the All-Star break Feb. 12-14.

“By that time, we should have all the villages set up and be able to come out there and help out and bring supplies and food and clothing,” he said before the Sixers played Dallas on Friday.

Dalembert said he was proud so many people have come together to raise money for the cause as part of an international, multi-network telethon on Friday.

“Everybody’s scratching their head, trying to find a way to help out,” he said. “It’s great. It was wonderful. When they told me that, I was pretty excited to see people are really responding and doing things.”

Major league baseball player Magglio Ordonez donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross on Friday and his Detroit Tigers teammate, Miguel Cabrera, ponied up $90,000 to Project Medishare for Haiti. The Tigers added $10,000 to Cabrera’s donation.

The San Diego Padres and their foundation gave $25,000 to UNICEF.

Other sports got into the act Friday, too. Boxing promoter Top Rank said it will donate one dollar from every ticket it sells through the end of the year to Haitian earthquake relief.

The company will begin with Saturday night’s featherweight doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, where about 5,000 fans are expected to see Juan Manuel Lopez challenge Steven Luevano for the title. Yuriorkis Gamboa faces Rogers Mtagwa in the co-main event.

“Starting with this fight and every fight through the rest of the year,” Top Rank chief Bob Arum said Friday. “For a fight like this, it might be a few thousand, but for March 13 it could be 40 or 50 thousand.”

Manny Pacquiao makes his return to the ring on March 13 against Joshua Clottey at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The facility is being configured for 40,000 fans, but it could conceivably fit upward of 70,000 depending on demand. The lowest priced ticket is $50, or roughly the same as the suggested pay-per-view price.

Arum said he wasn’t sure how many tickets will be sold the rest of the year because there is no accurate way to predict how many shows will be put together, who will headline the shows and where they will take place.

“Hopefully other promoters will join us,” Arum said.

The sport has been affected by the magnitude-7.0 quake. Haiti’s government estimates the Jan. 12 disaster killed 200,000 people, with another 250,000 injured and 2 million homeless in a nation of 9 million.

Among them were relatives of welterweight titleholder Andre Berto, who pulled out of a lucrative fight against Shane Mosley next week because of the strain caused by the earthquake.

Berto was born in Miami but represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympics, after narrowly missing the U.S. team. He has many relatives on the island and said earlier in the week he lost several family members. Berto has been involved in charity and relief efforts in his parents’ homeland for several years.

“I have seen the pain in my parents’ eyes as they attempt to understand what has happened to our homeland and recognize a place they once called home,” he said.

In Europe, skiers on the World Cup circuit said they’d set up an online auction of their starting bibs.

Defending overall World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway said all racers will sign their bibs after the men’s downhill Saturday, after which they will be auctioned off on the Internet.

Svindal says the bibs can be found on eBay under “Downhillers for Haiti.” Bidding ends Jan. 31.

American Julia Mancuso led a similar effort at a women’s super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, where all the top athletes signed their bibs after Friday’s race.

United States soccer player Jonathan Bornstein donated the shoes he wore in a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica when he scored the goal that put Honduras in the tournament.

Bornstein’s goal made him a minor hero in the Central American nation. His shoes will be sold on eBay and all the money received will go to the American Red Cross, U.S. Soccer said.

La Salle men’s basketball coach John Giannini is also getting rid of some shoes — he’ll coach Saturday afternoon in bare feet against Charlotte to raise awareness for the Samaritan’s Feet project, which has pledged 100,000 pairs of shoes to Haiti for victims.

“Service is a primary component of La Salle’s mission,” Giannini said. “A coach going barefoot for a game is a very small way to support that mission and help the many victims of the Haiti earthquake.”

Fans can donate to Samaritan’s Feet by texting the word SHOES to 85944, adding $5 to their bill.

AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in New York and AP Writer Eric Willemsen in Kitzbuehel, Austria, contributed.

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