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The Perseverance of Pierre Garcon

I have always been fascinated by the fact that players from other that the big college powerhouses are able to make it to the NFL. What’s more inspiring is when a player from a Division III (this would mean 0 appearance on national TV) makes it to the greatest sport league in the US.

Here is a blog entry by Georganne Hassell on a fellow Haitian-American Pierre-Garcon, the wide-receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.

January of 2010 was a momentous month in the world of football. A young Haitian-American set a new record in the AFC Championship game of catching 11 passes, boosting his team to victory. Pierre Garcon of the Indianapolis Colts did something else unexpected that day. He took his family’s native colors and paired them with the AFC Championship trophy to show his support for Haiti. Barely two weeks earlier Pierre, along with thousands of other Haitian-Americans was searching for family after a devastating earthquake hit the island. In the midst of the chaos Pierre kept strong and persevered–something he’s had to do his entire life.

The earthquake in Haiti wasn’t the only event to rock Pierre’s life out of balance. His father, Jules, died when he was only six years old, leaving his mother Marie to care for the family. Pierre says his intense work ethic is inspired by his mother who worked harvesting the fields by day and a shift in the postal service at night. As a college football player, Pierre had his own work cut out for him. He always had the dream of playing in the Superbowl, but rarely shared it at his Division III school of Mount Union. Despite the obstacles Pierre took whatever opportunity open to him to pursue his goal of being in the NFL. In 2008 he accomplished his goal when he was picked in the 6th round draft to play for the Colts. He spent his rookie NFL years learning from his teammates, and especially credits Peyton Manning for helping perfect his game. “I feel like he got better in his rookie year even though he wasn’t playing a lot,” said Manning. “He didn’t waste a year. When he was called upon in certain situations, he knew what to do.”

The same held true after the earthquake, when Pierre stepped right up to show his pride for Haiti and inspire others to help his parents’ homeland. Pierre said realizing his goals, whether its fundraising for Haiti or going to the Superbowl, were key to achieving success. “You don’t have to be from the biggest country,” he said. “You don’t have to be from the best place. You just have to work towards your goals and stay focused. Perseverance takes you a long way.”

 

January 24, 2012 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

Jonathan Vilma instills hope for Haitians and Americans alike

New Orleans Saints player Jonathan Vilma has been a football star from the start. His success began at Coral Gables High School in Florida, where he led the team as captain for two years. At the University of Miami he was a three-time Academic All-Big East Conference choice and selected as a scholar-athlete for 2002-2003 academic year. His professional career proved to be even bigger as he was selected in 2004 for the first round draft by the New York Jets, earned Defensive Rookie of the Year and was later selected for several Pro Bowls. Now a member of the Saints, Jonathan has shown that the NFL is about more than fame and fortune. A successful linebacker, Jonathan has used his celebrity status to make a difference in his parents’ native country of Haiti.

After the devastating earthquake in January 2010 he participated in a public service announcement to help fundraise for victims. Later that year he launched the Jonathan Vilma Foundation to support the building of a charter school in Port-Au-Prince. The school, called the Artists for Peace and Justice, welcomed more than 700 students through its doors last fall. The school offers more than education to underprivileged children, though. Because of the Jonathan Vilma Foundation the school can clothe, feed and attend to the medical needs of its students, ensuring they not only advance academically but that physical needs are also met. But Jonathan didn’t stop giving there.

He also began work last year with Operation HOPE and the 5 Million Kids (5MK) Initiative to promote the importance of education for inner-city youth. As part of his involvement, he makes appearances for the 5MK Make Smart Cool Tour—a tour across America encouraging schools to educate kids on the benefits of staying in school. Jonathan not only uses his prowess as a pro-football player to help change the our nation’s education, but he also gives back to his teammates to help educate them on finances. His financial conference, “Jonathan Vilma’s Financial 51,” helps NFL players learn how to manage their money. In our economically unstable times, Jonathan has given generously of his time and money to help people from Haiti to America earn a better life.

January 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

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