Colts’ Garcon keeping Haiti close to his heart
Pierre Garcon loves playing football.
He also learned there’s more to life than just his job.
Nearly seven months after a destructive earthquake hit Haiti,
the Colts receiver remains as focused as ever. Yes, he wants to win
a Super Bowl and still hopes to make a Pro Bowl, but he also
intends to continue raising money for his parents’ home nation.
”It’s become a big part of me,” Garcon said this week at
training camp. ”It’s something I’ll have to deal with all the time
now, that’s basically it. It will be a part of me forever.”
Garcon’s journey began shortly after the quake struck in
He started using Twitter and his platform in the NFL playoffs to
ask Americans for donations online and in interviews, promising he
would personally take those supplies to Haiti.
In April, armed with about $150,000, Garcon found enough time
between college classes to visit the island nation with his mother
and sister. They spent several days walking through the streets,
handing out food, water, clothing and assisting in the rebuilding
For the guy with the tough NFL veneer, it was heartbreaking to
see the damage.
”It looked like it did the day after (the earthquake),” Garcon
said. ”It was tough to see people in that environment, to live
like that, and I had a chance to help them out.”
A few weeks later and a world away, Garcon and the Colts were
getting ready to start a new season.
Yes, his breakout year was solid – 47 passes for 765 yards and
four touchdowns, including the game-winner at Miami. Then, in the
playoffs, with his mind understandably split between football and
family, he thrived.
Against Baltimore, in the divisional round, Garcon’s brilliant
punch knocked the ball out of Ed Reed’s hands and changed the game.
The next week, in the AFC title game, Garcon had a career-best 11
receptions for 151 yards and one TD against the Jets. He also
caught Peyton Manning’s only TD pass in the Super Bowl.
But Haiti was never far from his mind.
Garcon carried the nation’s flag around Lucas Oil Stadium after
beating the Jets, and walked into media day in Miami wearing a
bandanna with the Haitian flag logo. His Twitter page was
constantly updated with offers of autographed photos in exchange
for contributions to the relief fund, and during interviews, he
always made a pitch for help.
”I wanted the people to know that nobody was forgotten,” he
said. ”That was our goal, to help them and motivate them.”
The Colts supported Garcon all along the way – and still do.
”It starts at the top with Jim Irsay, and I think all of our
players do a tremendous job in that area,” coach Jim Caldwell said
after Wednesday morning’s special-teams only practice. ”Pierre has
found a certain situation dear to his heart, it’s his home country
and I think that’s important.”
Garcon has been a busy man since fans last saw him suit up in a
Besides the trip, Garcon earned his college degree in
communications and sports business from Mount Union in Ohio, a
Division III school. He spent the rest of the spring working out at
the Colts mini-camps and plotting new ways to keep his pet project
in the spotlight.
He’s also been an inspiration to his teammates.
”People saw the jump he made from his first year, and I’m using
that as an example for this year,” second-year receiver Austin
Collie said. ”This year, there needs to be a huge improvement over
But Garcon’s affinity might go both ways.
He acknowledges that there’s probably many more Colts fans in
Haiti than there were a year ago, and he has big plans for his
scheduled return trip next offseason.
The goal: Raise $1 million and the spirits of a country that is
still in dire need of help.
”We’ll be doing a lot of things this year,” Garcon said. ”I’m
going to raffle off season tickets. I’m going to do some things in
Indiana with the organizations and foundations around the country.
There’s a good possibility you’ll see the flag again. But it has to
be a good game – not just any game.
”And I plan on playing well, so every time they ask me about, I
can keep Haiti in the limelight. I’ll do whatever I can.”