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#191: Players sacrifice for kids in Haiti (fwd)


Published Thursday, August 5, 1999, in the Miami Herald WEST KENDALL
Players sacrifice for kids in Haiti
 By TRACY THOMAS Herald Writer 

 A 6-year-old ballplayer uses his own money to buy school supplies for
children who have none. A 5-year-old donates his prized championship
team uniform so another child will have one to wear. At Red Berry's
Baseball World in West Kendall, ballplayers of all ages have lined
 up to drop their coins into the big jug marked ``Haiti'' because they
want to help other children. For weeks, the players and their parents
have listened to Red Berry tell about an orphanage and schools near
Ranquitte, Haiti. Berry, who runs the baseball camp on Sunset Drive, had
heard about them from the parents of some of his ballplayers. The
orphanage was founded by Diomede Theodore of Ranquitte. He also
 established five schools. Theodore and his wife were involved in the
daily operation and financial support of the programs, giving their own
land for the buildings. Then last January, Theodore was in Kendall's
Baptist Hospital, very ill. His children and their families came to
Miami to be with him, and he shared his greatest concern: ``Who will
take care of my kids?'' Theodore's children promised him they would
continue his work with the kids left behind in the orphanage and
schools. They established a foundation to continue their father's work.
They provide most of the teachers' salaries and other financial
 support for the orphanage and schools, which are run on a shoestring
budget. The school in Ranquitte needs a roof. The floor is dirt, and
during rainy season, the children cannot keep dry. They do not have
shoes, and they have numerous skin problems. Most of the children look
much younger than their years because of malnutrition. When Berry
learned of this, he was immediately willing to help. Berry had made
 goodwill trips and led relief efforts in the past, having traveled as a
member of the coaching staff at the University of Miami to Nicaragua
after the earthquake. He also led groups from his Baseball World to
visits to the Bahamas and to the Dominican Republic. Players, parents
and friends from Baseball World helped raise $23,000 to put a roof on a
school, furnish it with desks and set up a school lunch program. Berry
and other volunteers conducted clinics there. Berry is planning an
initial survey trip to Ranquitte the first week of September. He
 is raising money to help with the school and the orphanage, as well as
collecting hygiene items and school supplies for the children. Each day,
baseball campers and their parents add their coins to the jug and bring
 in supplies to be packed in the boxes marked ``Haiti.''
 ``It's sad they have to live in those conditions,'' said Bryson
Sullivan, 13, ``and that they don't have parents.'' Berry's players
think the children in Haiti should have the opportunity to learn to
 play baseball. Said Luis Picard-Ami, 8: ``If they had a chance to learn
to play, maybe one of them would be like Mark McGwire.'' Countered his
twin brother, Alberto: ``No, like Ken Griffey.'' Or, Luis added, ``One
of them could be the next Babe Ruth.'' Berry has sent letters to 600
members of the Baseball World family, including friends and business
associates. Local businesses have donated sports equipment, and area
physicians and dentists have provided skin creams, toothbrushes,
toothpaste and other items. ``I just want to help kids,'' Berry said.
 Berry and one of his Baseball World coaches, Teo Campusano, will put on
 baseball clinics, as well as a physical education workshop for the
teachers. Campusano is from the Dominican Republic and played ball with
the Houston Astros organization. When he heard of the need in Haiti, he
says, ``I knew I had to go.'' Saintfort Paulin, the son-in-law of
Diomede Theodore, will lead the group that will determine what needs can
be met by future volunteers. Paulin's wife, Maude, a Miami-Dade County
schoolteacher, is going ahead to make arrangements. Meanwhile, kids at
Baseball World keep filling up boxes. ``I've had kids walk up to me and
give me their baseball gloves to take to Haiti,'' Berry said. ``Many,
many parents have come to me and just asked, `What do you need?' This
has gotten our kids thinking about other children who don't have what
 they have. They are thinking about what it is like not to have parents,
or to not have shoes to wear.''Said Luis Picard-Ami: ``We have so much
-- we want to share.''