The Super Bowl is American football's biggest professional game of the year. And one big star the game this Sunday in Miami, Florida is likely to be Indianapolis Colts' receiver Pierre Garcon, whose parents came to the U.S. from Haiti. Since the January 12th earthquake in Haiti, Garcon has used his stardom to raise attention about Haiti's needs since the disaster.
Few people in Haiti are likely to watch the Super Bowl, being played a few hundred kilometers away in Miami. Hundreds of thousands of people are focusing on recovering their shattered lives and rebuilding after the earthquake.
Colts receiver Pierre Garcon says even with the media fervor surrounding the Super Bowl, he wants Haitians to know they are not out of his mind. "Haiti has given me extra motivation," he says, "but every time I play I try to do my best."
Garcon was born in the U.S., but he retains a strong link to the homeland of his parents. He carries the nation's flag after crucial football victories.
When news broke about the devastating earthquake on January 12th, he was shocked. "Just, an earthquake in Haiti is not something you hear about every day. It was hard for me to believe," he stated.
Garcon was relieved to learn his relatives were unharmed. Since then, he has been drawing attention to the serious needs of many Haitians. One of his goals is to raise $150,000 to help a missionary group in northwest Haiti. "They've been helping people for 10-15 years now and we teamed up. We're trying to bring more help to Haiti really," he said.
Garcon is among a small group of players in the National Football League of Haitian descent. The quake has brought them together even across football rivalries. Garcon' will face off Sunday against the New Orleans Saints and Jonathan Vilma, who also has family in Haiti. "I was fortunate to hear that my family was OK, that night the earthquake hit. So that was a relief," Vilma said. "I was able to put it to the side a bit, focus on football. I can do that until the season is over with."
What's happened in Haiti is painful for Garcon. But he has a simple message for the people there. "We're coming, we're coming to help," he asserts. "Stay strong, hold on. We'll be there soon."
Win or lose on Sunday, Garcon says he plans to return to Haiti in April to offer help to the battered country.