Posts filed under ‘Sport’

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

Jason Pierre-Paul: The Road to Success

Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end on the New York Giants, has earned the accolade of “Superman” from his teammates. With the speed and agility of a superhero, Jason’s talent is a dream come true for the team. But his success wasn’t obvious during his rookie season. As a Haitian-American who only played one year of high school football and one season of major college football, his first NFL season led many to think he was a bust. Teammate Justin Tuck admitted that at times during the first season he thought the Giants’ 15th pick was a mistake. Jason proved them wrong in 2011 and has started the new year with continued victory.

Jason’s increasing success is seen by many to be a God-given talent. Indeed, the football star has “Chosen” tattooed broadly across his chest, and every indication points to supernatural skills. At 6’5” and 278 pounds, his athleticism allows him to do nearly the impossible for a man of his size. Many forget, however, just how inexperienced Jason is; the only NFL games he has seen are the ones he plays in. The 23-year-old never watched football growing up and his playing experience nearly matched that before his professional career started. So what is it that makes him such a dynamic force? It’s simple:  his drive.

Early in life Jason learned about the strength and perseverance needed to overcome life’s obstacles. He grew up in a gang-ridden neighborhood in Deerfield Beach, Fla. where walking home from school was way more dangerous than playing football. Tragedy hit early, too:  when Jason was just 8 months old his father, Jean, went blind, leaving his mother Marie to work long days as a hotel cleaner to support their children. Over the years Jason and his three siblings talked less about their father’s disability and more about their mother’s remarkable strength. This determination to survive and then thrive is embodied in his playing.

Jason knew his capabilities in 2010 but the world hadn’t seen it yet. Instead of buckling under the pressure, he worked harder reviewing games and studying his teammates, constantly striving to improve. His practice is paying off, but Jason knows he has a lot more to offer. “I could be great,” Jason has said of himself. His unmistakable drive is a much a part of his success as his athletic talent.

January 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

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