Four amputee soccer players who were helped through the Knights of Columbus’ “Healing Haiti’s Children” program spoke at a press conference about their new lease on life after losing a leg in the devastating Haitian earthquake last year.
The players, from the capital of Port-au-Prince, are special guests at the Supreme Convention in Denver. They are members of an amputee soccer club called Team Zaryen, made up of players who received prosthetic devices through a partnership between the Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare.
“You see, I just got up and walked,” said Wilfred Mancena. “All of the players here feel very well because of the Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare.”
Team coach Fortilus Cedieu added, “I know what the Knights of Columbus are doing for us. … You are a blessing for us.”
After the press conference, the four players kicked a soccer ball around, showing their mobility and skills. When playing, they remove their prosthetic devices and maneuver on lightweight crutches.
Also at the press conference was Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, diocesan administrator of Denver and Archbishop-designate of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He said that Denver was pleased to host the convention and introduced Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson.
Anderson, who has visited Haiti in the earthquake’s aftermath, complimented the players for their strength and determination in overcoming their adversity. He also spoke about the “greatness of the people of Haiti” and their “faithfulness and generosity of spirit.”
In working to restore hope to the people of Haiti,” he added, “We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Project Medishare.”
The medical group crafts and fits prosthetic devices and provides ongoing physical therapy.
Dr. Robert Gailey, director of rehabilitation services for Medishare, said that Team Zaryen is about more than soccer. The players are committed to setting an example for all those who face difficult and life-changing circumstances.
They want to demonstrate that a disability should not exclude a person from society, education or employment, and that disabled persons should be accepted for their abilities and not judged by a disability, he said.
In partnership with the Knights, he concluded, “We are introducing rehabilitation into Haiti.”