Haiti’s Amputee Athletes Extend a Hand to Wounded American Troops

    Haiti's Amputee Athletes Extend a Hand to Wounded American Troops

    PR Newswire

    Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare partner to support U.S. tour, featuring soccer exhibitions and training sessions for wounded veterans

    NEW HAVEN, Conn., Sept. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A Haitian amputee soccer team, most of whose players lost limbs in the horrific January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, will tour several cities in the eastern United States in mid-October. The "Haitian Inspiration Tour" will bring amputee soccer clinics to wounded American service members who have lost limbs in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Members of Team Zaryen, the Haitian soccer team cosponsored by Project Medishare and the Knights of Columbus, will visit the Washington, D.C., and New York City areas from Oct. 15-21. In Washington, they will conduct clinics and training sessions at both Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and at the D.C. United field at RFK Stadium in Washington. D.C. United, Washington's Major League Soccer team, agreed to host several of the Haitian team's clinics and demonstration matches.

    More than 200,000 people died in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the American military quickly stepped in with emergency relief and security when the local government's ability to provide basic services collapsed. Project Medishare, based at the University of Miami's medical school, immediately set up a large field hospital near the Port-au-Prince airport that offered around-the-clock emergency medical care for eight months after the earthquake.

    In the aftermath of the quake, the Knights of Columbus joined with Project Medishare to provide prosthetic limbs for every Haitian child who suffered an amputation or disabling injury requiring long-term care in the disaster, and the Knights funded construction of a modern prosthetics and orthotics facility at Project Medishare's Hospital Bernard Mevs in downtown Port-au-Prince. There, hundreds of children and adult amputees have been provided with prosthetic limbs over the past 18 months. Likewise, many children with long-term disabilities are also receiving the much needed care that did not exist prior to the earthquake.

    Team Zaryen was formed after the 2010 earthquake, to help amputees rebuild their lives and to help remove the stigma associated with being an amputee or disabled in Haitian society. During October, they will offer their gratitude for the U.S. military's assistance to Haiti, and share their enthusiasm for amputee soccer with American service members who face similar challenges following their traumatic injuries.

    Team Zaryen will scrimmage in Washington with team members from the American Amputee Soccer Association, founded in 1997, which fields teams that compete under the umbrella of the World Amputee Football (Soccer) Federation.

    Team Zaryen will also visit New York City and conduct a clinic for school children in Stamford, Conn. Members of the team believe their example will prove to the young people everywhere that despite any disability, there are no limits to what an individual, a team, or a nation can achieve.

    Team Zaryen is one of many positive outcomes of the Healing Haiti's Children program co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, which has committed more than $1 million to the project, and Project Medishare, which provides the most extensive medical and rehabilitation services for amputees in Haiti. The program provides both prosthetic limbs and a two year course of physical therapy to children who lost a limb in the Haitian earthquake. In addition to helping the children of Haiti, the program has provided every athlete on Team Zaryen with complete prosthetic care, the opportunity to build the amputee soccer program in Haiti and funding for their U.S. tour.

    SOURCE Knights of Columbus