Patrick Peterson knew that Larry Fitzgerald had been a part of more than a couple aid missions to needy countries, and when the cornerback was returning from his first – time in Haiti this weekend – he shot a text to his teammate.
“This,” Peterson wrote, “was a great, eye-opening experience.”
Peterson and his wife, Antonique, left last Wednesday night on a red eye to the country, guests of Mission of Hope. There, Antonique – who will finish her schooling to become a doctor a year from now — visited and helped at medical centers. Patrick visited schools and helped teach children how to read and build things, and played soccer and kickball with the students.
The two also visited villages without clean water, so they took part in trips to local spring wells to collect fresh water to bring back to affected areas.
There, Patrick Peterson is not a Pro Bowl cornerback but just a humanitarian looking to give back.
“Just to see how resilient those people are was unbelievable,” Peterson said. “People in the U.S., we can complain about some of the smallest things, and these people, sometimes their kids are running around with no bottoms on, they have no fresh water, no power. No AC. Sleeping in tents. But when you go speak with them, they have a smile on their face. They have high energy. They have hope.”
That encouraged Peterson, an offset of some of the “heartbreaking” things he saw. In particular, there was a family with seven children, with twins around 8 years old. The parents underfed the well-underweight twins, Peterson said, in part to convince strangers in the street to provide the family money to help feed all of them.
Mission of Hope convinced the parents to let them take in the kids for a time so they could get the right nourishment. Still, Peterson said, “it was devastating to see.”
The visit made a deep impression on Peterson. He said he will pay for three of the houses that are being built for needy families in the village they visited. He will also send items down from his own home, and asked teammates if they had anything to donate to do the same.
He added that he and his wife plan on going back next year, and Peterson wants to involve his young daughter Paityn when she is old enough to take part some years down the road.
“It really touched home,” Peterson said. “I want to make sure I can do whatever I can to make their lives better.”
ArizonaCardinals/Peterson May 8, 2017