During Miami Dolphins’ Bye Week, Team Helps Provide Hurricane Relief in Haiti, Bahamas

Terrence Fede’s work day starts when he pulls into the parking lot at the Miami Dolphins training facility at 3:45 in the morning.

Fede’s first assignment is to help load boxes and bags onto a bus, help transfer those onto a plane, and get on the first flight from Fort Lauderdale to Haiti where his parents were born and some family members still reside.

By the time the sun rises and sets again, the NFL defensive end will have traveled to the disaster ravaged country, met with its United States ambassador, visited a hospital, toured a makeshift water treatment project, lightened the hearts of school kids by gifting them backpacks and other goodies, survived van rides to all his stops courtesy the world’s most aggressive drivers, had his flight back to the United States diverted because of an airport closing, and sealed his commitment and ties to his ancestral home.

All this during a bye weekend for the Dolphins.

All this on Fede’s day off.

“It was good to get back home, back to your mother country,” Fede said around 9 p.m. when the day was coming to an end at Miami International Airport’s passport control section. “Obviously, like you saw, we need a lot of help. There are a lot of efforts from people trying to go there and do their part to help the country but it’s still not enough.

“It was just hard seeing the kids struggling. Like when we went to the hospital, that’s what hit me the most. When I saw that child on the bed struggling it was hard. I know in America we have medicine. We have equipment. They were saying they need ventilators.

“We have all that, but over there they have three or four beds and they’re treating like 50 people or more daily. It’s just tough seeing.”

The Dolphins sent a dozen people, including Fede and cheerleader Amina Daoud, who was born in Haiti and emigrated to the United States, to Haiti on Friday. They were accompanied on a commercial flight by half-a-dozen North Miami city leaders and police.

North Miami, where 33 percent of the population is Haitian or of Haitian descent according to the 2000 census, has a Haitian mayor, city clerk, police chief, and vice mayor — who is also one of two Haitian councilmen.

So, you get it, North Miami is invested in Haitian affairs.

But North Miami is along for this trip because assistant police chief Larry Juriga is also part of the Dolphins security personnel. And when Hurricane Matthew hit, he called the Dolphins to ask if they would do anything to help the Haitian victims of the storm.

“I thought a great way to show our compassion and our concern was partnering up,” Juriga said. “I’m glad to be a small part of both organizations — the Dolphins as well as the city — and the second I just hinted about doing something, both sides jumped on the idea.”

Club senior vice president Jason Jenkins expanded the vision to include the Bahamas and Cuba, which also were ravaged by Matthew.

The team chartered a flight to the Bahamas on Thursday and eight people, including president and CEO Tom Garfinkel, safety Michael Thomas, and former player and senior vice president Nat Moore, went to tour the hardest hit areas, including the West End of Grand Bahama Island.

That excursion, delayed when their jet blew out a tire, delivered $40,000 worth of building materials donated by eight team sponsors. It also delivered monies collected from, among others, Dan Marino, Bob Griese, Bob Baumhower, Jason Taylor, Moore and Dwight Stephenson.

“What I saw in Freeport and Grand Bahamas, that was some devastation,” said Moore, who was part of the Bahamas and Haiti missions. “But once I went down to Eight Mile Rock and West End, you saw homes blown away and tarps everywhere and no electricity. That’s when you get back to the reality we dealt with when we had Hurricane Andrew. So it’s always good to go and offer help.”

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Miami Herald