By Shawn Freeman / TSU Sports Information
On January 12, a series of earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 6.5 to 7.3 devastated Haiti. Haitian authorities say more than 150,000 bodies have been buried and the death toll could rise to 300,000. As many as 800,000 Haitians are now homeless in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The Tennessee State University Athletics Department is joining forces with the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to raise funds for disaster relief in Haiti during this week's basketball games.
Cash donations will be collected by TSU student-athletes at the Tigers and Lady Tigers OVC matchups with Morehead State (1/28) and Eastern Kentucky (1/30) at the Gentry Center. The women's games will tip off at 5:30 P.M., followed by the men's game at 7:30 P.M. each night.
TSU Football Head Coach Rod Reed has helped spearhead the Haiti relief efforts by the athletic department and has felt the effects of the earthquake within the Tiger football family.
"When you see things on the news, sometimes they seem so far away but this disaster has certainly hit close to home with its effect on one of our own in Renaloski," Reed said. "It's incumbent upon us to do something and we hope all of our fans will join the TSU Family in giving to the Red Cross at our basketball games this week."
Renaloski St. Fleur, a junior and member of the Tiger football team is a native of Hollywood, Fla. but is of Haitian descent.
His parents, siblings and family were born and raised in Port-au-Prince. With several family members still residing in Haiti, St. Fleur received word that he had lost a cousin and heard an aunt was missing.
"I couldn't believe it," St. Fleur explained. "This is something that happened to my family, it hurts that I can't see them again."
Days after the tragedy, teammates of St. Fleur gave their condolences which triggered him to ask head coach Rod Reed to help rally a relief effort with the team.
The call for assistance among TSU student-athletes funneled through the entire athletic department. What started as a team initiative grew into a group venture supported by student-athletes of all sports and administrators.
St. Fleur donated a significant amount of his own funds to the relief efforts. He also expressed gratitude to TSU, the Nashville community and anyone who donated while keeping the people of Haiti in their thoughts and prayers.
"It's a great feeling to be able to see the teams and the student body come together so quickly for such a world-wide cause," said St. Fleur. "Do as much as you can towards the Haiti relief efforts. If its clothes, shoes, food, money, anything helps."
The American Red Cross is working with its partners in the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network, including the Haitian Red Cross, and other partners to assist those affected by this disaster.
The Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross is not accepting individual household goods for the Haiti earthquake response. Your cash donation will help respond to the needs of the Haitian people in the most effective, efficient way. In addition to this week's games, fan can donate online at www.nashvilleredcross.org, or call 615-250-4300.