'Hockey for Haiti' makes big impact on Hamhuis

Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 11:45pm

In a way, Dan Hamhuis had been preparing for years to take the journey on which he embarked last week. So when the National Hockey League Players’ Association sent an email to members of its executive committee seeking another volunteer to join a goodwill trip to Haiti, the Predators defenseman signed on.

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in — traveling to a developing country to see it,” Hamhuis said from Haiti. “It’s been quite different — I guess that would be a great understatement — compared to what we see in North America.”

The trip, led by NHL veteran Georges Laraque, a Haitian-Canadian, included an announcement that more than $1 million had been raised through “Hockey For Haiti,” a joint initiative among Laraque, the NHLPA and World Vision Canada.

The money was intended to help rebuild Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince, which was badly damaged during the devastating earthquake in January. Hamhuis and the rest of the caravan visited the hospital on Wednesday.

“The children are just out in a courtyard with a tarp tied up over their heads to shield them from the sun,” Hamhuis said. “The whole thing will take years and years to rebuild, but the people have a great spirit.

“Money is something that goes a lot farther here … but they need practically everything. The pictures and the video you see on television don’t prepare you for what you see when you get here.

“There really is so much need in North America, even in a great city like Nashville, and it just tugs at my heart. … Certainly, I will take the time to reflect on this trip and let it sink in when I get back to North America.”