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February 03, 2010 - Image 1

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-03

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8B The Statement // Wednesday, February 3, 2010
PERSONALSTATEMENT

HAITI RELIEF
BY BETSY HEUBNER
F riday morning I woke to a text
from my friend Brian that read,
"Call me now!" A friend of his
runs an adoption agency in Colo-
rado and had sent an e-mail asking
for people to go to Fort Lauderdale
to help with children coming in from
Haiti. The agency had been promised
visas for about 500 Haitian orphans
and they needed volunteers in Flor-
ida to take care of the children until
their adoptive parents could pick
them up. Brian and I left for the air-
port later that day.
Shortly after we arrived in Florida,
we found that the kids wouldn't be
allowed out of Haiti without escorts,
so we booked a flight for Port-au-
Prince and left the next morning.
We landed in Haiti at noon on Sun-
day and arrived at the U.S. Embassy
at 5 p.m. We were taken to where the
kids were staying and met the social
worker there. The only thing she said
to me after I introduced myself was,
"OK, take these kids and do what-
ANTONIO BASS
From Page 5B
and watch with his mother because
he couldn't watch it alone. Hobbling
through the living room, trying to
pace back-and-forth, Tami kept
yelling at her son to calm down. He
wasn't supposed to be on his feet yet,
but he couldn't help it.
"Just everything about that game
was so overwhelming," Bass says.
As much as he missed football,
Bass was able to put his post-injury
life in perspective pretty easily. He
never thought about dropping out or
transferring; he knew that a degree
from the University of Michigan was
too good an opportunity to pass up.
"When I first came here, I knew
that football was necessary for me as
a tool," he said. "I was blessed with
the ability to play football, but it got
me to college, a great university. If
football never worked out, I knew
I would always have a degree. Even
at that time, I knew that if one door
closed, another would open."
A Communication Studies major,
Bass graduated in December and will
be walking in May. Currently, he's

ever it takes to get them out of here
tonight." Then the Marines shuttled
all of us back to the airport and we
prepared to leave the country.
To me, the saddest part about the
trip was that of the 50 or so kids on
our flight, not a single one cried at
takeoff, and only one cried during
the entire trip. They've learned that
nobody responds when they cry - to
them, it's just not worth the effort.
We got to Orlando at around 1:30
a.m. and headed to customs. That
was the only point during the trip
that was really hard for me - heavy
backpack, baby on each hip, running
on little sleep. The customs officials
didn't know where to put us, so we
stood around before they ushered us
to a holding area where we waited for
21 hours.
The only kids who were allowed
out of Haiti were those who were
already matched with adoptive fami-
lies - some had been matched for
one and a half to two years and their
working as a sales representative at a
local steel manufacturer, applying for
jobs across the country and enjoying
the time he has left in Ann Arbor.
Football is done, but his life is just
beginning.
The Return: On May 1, 2010,
Bass will walk through the tunnel at
Michigan Stadium for the last time.
He won't have a winged helmet or
slap the "Go Blue" banner. He won't
walk arm-in-arm with his mother
over the block 'M,' the rite of passage
for every Michigan football senior
before his last home game.
The grandstands won't be nearly
as full as they were on Nov. 19, 2005,
the last time he stepped onto that
field in his uniform, when 111,591
fans packed the Big House against
Ohio State.
Instead, he'll walk out in his cap
and gown, with his family in atten-
dance and take his seat among the
rest of the class of 2010, knowing
that without football - and without
the agony of his horrific injury - he
would not be where he is right now.
"I'm loving it," Tami said. "Don't
quit school. There's something more
out there for you. He didn't let it get

was done. So much was just starting
for the parents; so much had abruptly
ended forus.
The next day I left for the airport
and returned to my regular life in
Ann Arbor.
This story is brief - there's so
much more I could talk about, like
the dangers of child trafficking and
how a more efficient way of helping
adoptive parents had already vis- these children get connected with
ited multiple times, but hadn't been their adoptive parents has to exist.
allowed out until now. I could talk about how the media
Watching the looks on the adop- sensationalizes everything and how
tive parents' faces as we brought ridiculous it is that people are using
their kids to them and the tears in this disaster for PR. I could talk about
their eyes as we put the children in how aid workers have come together
their arms will remain one of the best to help in so many ways when they
don't have to.
"T e I could talk about
The only thing she said to me our military and its
w t e ahumanitarian work
was, OK, take these kids and do and how crazy it was
whatever it takes to get them out that I felt very safe
while in Haiti. I could
of (Haiti) tonight.'" talk about a little boy
I met with chunks of
flesh missing from his
moments of my life. head and nerve damage in his right
It was weird walking away after arm who hadn't seen his mother
handing the last of the children to since the earthquake. I could talk
their parents. Another volunteer and about an adoptive mother who had
I were the only adults left, and walk- two little girls matched with her only
ing outside I thought, "It's over?" We to find that one had died.
had been working on little sleep for I could talk about how awful it
days and then, within ten minutes, it was for the adoptive mothers who

had to wait and wait and wait with
no news, knowing there was nothing
they could do to help. How they had
no guarantees they'd get totake their
child home even though they were
standing in the same airport.
I could tell you about the heartbro-
ken parents who had already waited
for years, only to find out that their
kids might not come home for weeks.
I could talk about the mother who,
while waiting for her adoptive child,
found out her father had suffered
a heart attack and had to take her
new daughter straight to the hospital
from customs.
I could talk about how children
in orphanages are sick all the time
because there's no way to keep them
from sharing cups or food, but that
there is no way to remedy that -
especially with more kids outside
the orphanage door every day. I
could talk about the peeling skin of
the children, their itchy heads, their
runny noses, their diarrhea and their
parasites.
I could talk about a lot of things I
witnessed. But what I will talk about
is how, no matter the sacrifice, the
best thing for any orphan is a family
that will love him and value him and
teach him and raise him and prepare
him for life in this world.
- Betsy Heubner is a University alum.

him down. Sports isn't everything.
You need to get your degree. You're
not guaranteed to get in the League,
and if you do, you're not guaranteed
that you won't get injured when you
get there. But you always have your
degree."
Bass is grateful to be here. He
thanks God, coach Carr, his mom
and his teammates. He admits that
sometimes, he daydreams about get-
ting back on the football field - and
it has crossed his mind that his skill-
set would have made him the perfect
quarterback for Rich Rodriguez's
offense in 2008, what would have
been his senior year, had he never
gotten injured.
But those thoughts are fleeting and
fewer nowadays.
And on May 1, in the building in
which he once showcased his promis-
ing potential, surrounded by the mem-
ories of football - the block 'M' and
the fight song, walking through the
tunnel and seeingthe expansive stands
of Michigan Stadium - he won't be
thinking about football much.
His thought will be occupied by his
new college degree - what he really
came to the University to achieve -
and his future. E

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