"Many Hearts, One Goal" Established to Help Haiti Through Soccer
CLEARWATER - For those possessing a special level of character, the inspiration to make a difference in the world can come at the most unexpected times. For 16-year-old Bryane Heaberlin, the moment occurred where she spends much of her time - on the soccer field.
So moved was Heaberlin during an impromptu post game visit with the Haitian U-17 Women's National Team at a recent game in Costa Rica, she decided to change lives, including her own. The result of that decision is Many Hearts, One Goal, a project designed to help better the lives of a team devastated by tragedy.
It started with a hug.
Heaberlin, a junior at Tampa's Berkeley Preparatory School and a goalkeeper for Clearwater Soccer Club, had the honor of representing her country at a U-17 World Cup qualifying tournament in Costa Rica. The first opponent - a Haitian team that had already defeated the odds just by showing up. The earthquake that rocked Haiti in January had left much of the team homeless, some without families. The Haitian Football Federation headquarters was destroyed, with many coaches and staff members killed.
Yet they were there on March 10, giving it their all though greatly overmatched by the U.S. squad. The final score was 9-0, and when the whistle blew Haitian keeper Alexandra Coby collapsed on the field, overcome by emotion. Heaberlin made her way to the other end, where she embraced Coby. Tears fell for both.
"Seeing her on the ground just hit me, that she needed us to be there for her," Heaberlin told the St. Petersburg Times.
When Heaberlin returned home, she knew the story couldn't end there. To continue to "be there" for the Haitian team, the Bryane Heaberlin Foundation has been established with Many Hearts, One Goal as its sole focus. Phase 1 of the program is to fly the entire U-17 Haitian National Team to Orlando for two weeks to compete in the Disney Cup International Youth Tournament this July. Mercedes Homes has stepped up to pledge its support, as has the Clearwater Soccer Club. Your help is needed too!
While bringing the team to the U.S. for a short period of time doesn't solve any of their problems, it brings hope to those who otherwise might not have any. The ultimate objectives of Many Hearts, One Goal will include assisting the team members, as well as the Haitian Football Federation, in recovering and rebuilding. Mercedes Homes has created a prototype-housing unit that it hopes to have on display at the Disney Cup July 12-17 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Those wishing to contribute to Many Hearts, One Goal can visit www.many-hearts-one-goal.org.
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