NBRPA gives back in Haiti with successful goodwill trip

November 1, 2013

(Pictured above, Mario Elie, LaRue Martin and Arnie Fielkow present Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe with a Legends basketball jersey)

The NBRPA recently completed a successful and productive goodwill trip to Haiti from October 21-25, 2013. Sponsored in part by the Government of the Republic of Haiti, the philanthropic itinerary included press events, site-seeing tours, basketball exhibitions, youth development sessions, community visits and a Sports Business Forum event. Former NBA players included on the trip included Haitian Americans Mario Elie (3-time NBA Champion) and Olden Polynice (Seattle SuperSonics), as well as LaRue Martin (former No. 1 overall pick), Dwight Davis (former No. 3 overall pick), Harvey Catchings (Milwaukee Bucks) and Eldridge Recasner (Atlanta Hawks).

“As a 501(c)3 charitable organization, the NBRPA is focused on giving back to the community,” said NBRPA President & CEO Arnie D. Fielkow, who joined the former NBA players in Haiti. “In the past year we’ve held more than 20 youth basketball clinics across the United States, including special stops in Sandy Hook, Conn. (shooting tragedy) and Moore, Okla. (tornado victims). It was exciting to expand outreach and bring this initiative abroad to Haiti – after all, basketball is an international game. Our Legends of Basketball were thrilled to give back in Haiti and learned much about the island, its culture and the lingering damage from the earthquake that rocked the country in 2010.”

With the help of Spalding, the NBRPA donated basketball equipment to Haitian communities in need and helped rebuild basketball courts. While the Haitian capitol of Port-au-Prince served as home base for the Legends of Basketball during the tour, the NBRPA also ventured into the impoverished Central Plateau Region and visited medical facilities as part of a partnership with Medishare – a Miami-based entity dedicated to providing comprehensive health and development services and building capacity in Haiti. The goodwill mission concluded with a Sports Business Forum that took a deep look into how a growing sports industry in Haiti might help drive the country’s economy.

Sponsors for the trip included: The Government of the Republic of Haiti, Healthshare Global, American Airlines, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel: Miami Airport and Convention Center, Best Western Premier: Petion-Ville, Spalding and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Perhaps the trip was closest to the heart of Polynice, who was born in Haiti. With that in mind, we wanted to share his words of thank you to the NBRPA and organizers of the trip. Here is his message:

Thank you to the entire office of the Haitian Prime Minister for making this possible. Your professionalism is only surpassed by your warmth and grace.

To Arnie and the entire NBRPA, thank you for taking this amazing step. This was truly about helping others – a true goodwill mission. Your leadership is immeasurable. You share similar visions with us. The NBRPA is truly in great hands.

To Harvey, I've known you since 1987 and you have remained the same classy man I met as a rookie. I appreciate you taking the time to be with us. God’s blessing to you and your family.

LaRue, I'm glad I had the pleasure to meet you and spend time with you. You truly are a legend in my eyes. You were a No. 1 pick and I know numbers never lie, but numbers never tell you the true nature of a man. I have total admiration for you.

To Dwight, thank you for being such a beautiful person. I love your spirit and love of life. You totally immersed yourself into this experience and it showed in your actions. You were engaging and it felt as if we knew each other for years.

To Mario, thank you my Haitian brother. I'm glad we had the chance to finally come together for Haiti. I regret not getting with you when we were playing, but I am thankful that we got together this past week. I believe we appreciate the experience more now. You are a champion in every sense of the word and a hero to our people.

To Eldridge, thank you for being a friend after all these years. You came to Haiti with an open mind and took in the beauty of my homeland. I thank you for being such a positive presence. We have a lot in common and I was glad we could spend some time doing something as positive as this.

The people of Haiti truly appreciated us being there. I was at President Martelly's house on Friday night and he thanked all of you as well for this goodwill mission. I pray that we get to do this again sooner than later – hopefully with a day on the beach thrown in!