US sports stars lead drive for Haitian relief fund
NBA star Dwayne Wade and former player Alonzo Mourning have co-founded a Haitian earthquake relief fund that has already raised close to one million dollars.
Calling the initial wave of support “overwhelming,” Mourning announced Monday that the fund’s pledge total has already surpassed $800,000.
Wade’s donation was a one-game salary, about $175,000, while players including 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, travelling 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.”
“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.
Many of the NBA donors so far have 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.”