Heat contingent in Haiti, honor relief commitment
Calling the experience overwhelming, Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning returned to Haiti on Saturday and said efforts to aid the earthquake-stricken region have led to immeasurable improvement.
Still, he says that's just a start.
Taking a break from touring the tent-city hospitals set up along the perimeter of the Haitian capital's airport, Mourning said so much more needs to be done to help the region. That's why Mourning, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, retired great Tim Hardaway and Memphis star Rudy Gay were part of a trip to Haiti on Saturday.
``You would not believe how much better the quality of everything is here now for these people,'' Mourning said. ``They still need more.''
A team of relief workers from Project Medishare, a nonprofit University of Miami organization the Heat have partnered with to aid Haitian efforts, made the trip as well.
It's a crucial time for Medishare, which is seeing the tent hospitals moved from the hospital to a more secure structure - crucial now that the Atlantic hurricane season is under way.
Among the items on Saturday's itinerary: Presenting a $25,000 check from the Heat to Project Medishare, and distributing 20 large temporary tent homes and other essential equipment to families.
``When it happened back in January, it was such a tragedy, immediately everybody in the organization wanted to do something,'' Spoelstra said as the group was waiting to go through a security checkpoint before departing Miami International Airport. ``When the season was over, we didn't want to forget.''
Neither Spoelstra nor Gay had been to Haiti before Saturday.
The travel party met Saturday morning in Miami, with workers spending more than an hour loading a charter flight with huge boxes of water, diapers, sandals and other essentials earmarked for distribution.
Some members of the group were making their 16th trip to Haiti since the earthquakes hit. Mourning has been several times already, and is planning more trips this summer.
Mourning and Dwyane Wade led an effort that raised more than $800,000 for relief in a span of about three days in mid-January, just after the quakes struck.
Calling their group the ``Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti,'' Mourning and Wade asked other NBA players to donate to the cause.
``I can't believe what I'm seeing,'' Gay said. ``I didn't know what to expect.''