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US Football Star Garçon Shines Light Back on Haiti



The Super Bowl is American football's biggest game of the year.  One big star in Sunday's game is likely to be Indianapolis Colts' receiver Pierre Garçon, whose parents came to the United States from Haiti.  Since the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, Garçon has used his newfound stardom to raise attention to Haiti's needs since the disaster.  

The lead up to Sunday's Super Bowl is a frenzy of media attention on the top two teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.  Star players endure hours of interviews, talking about their football background and their preparation for the big game.

Colts receiver Pierre Garçon is enjoying his moment in the spotlight.  But he also wants to remind people about Haiti, and its struggle to rebuild following a devastating earthquake.

"Haiti has given me extra motivation, but every time I play I try to do my best," said Garçon.

Garçon was born in the United States and grew up playing football not far from the Miami stadium hosting this year's Super Bowl.  He retains a strong link to the homeland of his parents, and carries the nation's flag after crucial football victories.  When news broke about the January 12 quake, he was shocked.

"Just, an earthquake in Haiti is not something you hear about every day.  It was hard for me to believe," he added.

Garçon was relieved to learn his relatives were unharmed.  Since then, he has been drawing attention to the needs of tens of thousands of Haitians who lost their homes and relatives in the disaster.  One of his goals is to raise $150,000 to help a missionary group in northwest Haiti.

"They have been helping people for 10 to 15 years now and we teamed up.  We are trying to bring more help to Haiti really," he explained.

Garçon is among a small group of NFL players of Haitian descent.  The quake has brought them together even across football rivalries.  Garçon 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," said Vilma.  "So that was a relief.  I was able to put it to the side a bit, focus on football.  I can do that until the season is over with."

For Garçon, it has been a challenge to put aside his concerns about Haiti, and focus on football and the most important game of his career,  but he has a simple message to Haitians.

"We are coming, we are coming to help.  Stay strong, hold on.  We will be there soon," added Garçon.

Win or lose on Sunday, Garçon says he plans to return to Haiti in April and offer help to the battered country.

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