Haitian Initiative

Galaxy Foundation Continues to Give Back

The LA Galaxy's Gloria King, Director of Community Development and the Los Angeles Galaxy Foundation, knew she had to do more. As far as former Galaxy defender Tony Sanneh was concerned, it was a no-brainer.

King and Sanneh had traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in March to deliver supplies and soccer equipment to the devastated country, which had been rocked by a 7.0 earthquake in January that reportedly killed 200,000 people and left as many as a million homeless. The trip had such a profound affect on King and Sanneh they decided they had to do something -- anything -- else.

The result was the Haitian Initiative, a joint project of the Galaxy and Sanneh foundations which will continue to not only provide soccer-based youth programming, equipment and aid to Haiti during the rebuilding process but brought an Under-15 boys team from L'Athletique d'Haiti to participate in the just-concluded Schwan USA Cup in Blaine, Minn.

PHOTO GALLERY: Haiti Visit & Haitian Initiative

The Haitian team surprisingly won its Boys 15 'A' Gold Flight with a 6-2 victory over Bonivital Flames, from Manitoba, in the final.

"Tony and I were together there a week, and we really didn't have much time to reflect on our time there," King said. "We were always so busy with people. When we got back we talked about our experiences and I told Tony there was no way I could have gone there and forgotten what I saw.

It was the same with Tony.

"We decided to find a way for our foundations to continue to give back. That's where we came up with the initiative. We were able to see the power of sport and how it can make a difference."

Some of the soccer gear collected from the Galaxy's equipment drive at Thursday's game against the San Jose Earthquakes, along with equipment donated by the Sanneh Foundation's Kick It Back collection at the USA Cup, also will benefit L'Athletique d'Haiti.

Sanneh, whose foundation works with disadvantaged youths in his home state of Minnesota, said he not only wanted to keep providing aid to one of the world's poorest countries, but he felt he had to after seeing the destruction first-hand.

"You hear stuff about what happened," he said, "but when you get there and actually see it ... you could drive 40 minutes or an hour, miles upon miles, and pretty soon it started looking the same. Like rubble, a pile of bricks.

"I wanted to keep doing something down there."

"It was such an eye-opening experience," King said. "I've never seen anything like that. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, but I don't think I knew what that meant until I saw it for myself. And then to have the earthquake happen.

"It was a different experience from the moment we landed. So many people there in need. It was completely unbelievable and unreal."

King said she already is planning on making another trip to Haiti, probably toward the end of the year, and perhaps bring some youths to Los Angeles for a visit, followed by another appearance in the Schwan Cup. King admitted she initially had some problems adjusting to her more idyllic lifestyle back home in Southern California after what she had seen.

"There are people who are in such desperate need," she said. "But we also saw a lot of human spirit. Not everybody in Haiti is poor, you did see a very distinct line between the haves and the have-nots. There's still a spirit of hope there, that they will rebuild and get better, which is what I'm hoping.

"Hopefully we added a little something."