Vigil Wednesday night one of several UF events to help Haiti


Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.

It is human nature to band together when tragedy strikes elsewhere around the world. Nations send aid in the form of money and support -- and people remember, if only for a short time.

One year ago, when an earthquake shook the foundation of Haiti and turned its people’s lives upside down, the world responded. Yet how many people think of that tragedy today?

“We have short term memory,” said Sky Georges, president of Gators United for Haiti at the University of Florida. “People forget.”

That is why the organization is hosting Gators United for Haiti Week: A Year Later, a series of events meant to commemorate the lives lost and the damage done in Haiti.

The week will begin Tuesday with a screening of the documentary “Bound by Haiti.”

Wednesday night is a candlelight vigil, which will take place in the Reitz Union Ampitheater from 7-9 p.m.

“There will be speakers present and people talking about if they knew someone in Haiti [during the earthquake],” Georges said. “There will also be a moment of silence.”

On Thursday will be “Rebuilding Haiti: Perspectives from the Field” -- aanel discussion that will include a board of UF faculty members.

“They will talk about Haiti and where to go from now,” he said.

The panel is a joint effort between Gators United for Haiti and the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. It is to be held from 4:30-6 p.m. in room 286 of the Reitz Union.

On Friday from 7-10 p.m., Gators United for Haiti will host the Bid for Haiti Auction and Talent Showcase in the Reitz Union Rion Ballroom. The showcase will include performances and prizes, said Emily Nyren, a Gators United for Haiti member and freshman sociology major at UF.

“The Sedoctaves and Sabor Latino will perform,” she said. “There will be a silent and live auction of Haitian artwork, a football signed by Urban Meyer, a basketball signed by Billy Donovan and gift cards.”

The remembrance week will end on Saturday with the Chomp the Quake 5K.

Participants will meet in the Large Commuter Parking Lot located on Gale Lemerand Drive and the race will last from 7-10 a.m.

Georges said the 5K is the only event during the week that requires a fee to participate. The $20 registration fee will help the organization reach its goal of raising $50,000.

“Right now we are at over $41,000,” he said. “We want to raise money and awareness for what happened and the lives affected.”

Beth Waltrip, faculty adviser for Gators United for Haiti and director for Campus Programs at UF, said that the organization’s cause is as strong as ever.

“Students and I continue to be humbled by the ongoing support from across campus,” she said. “It wasn’t surprising at the time. But now, a year later, we still have people volunteering.”

She said she hopes this week’s events will bring back people’s awareness.

“Just because it’s not front and center in the media, don’t forget,” Waltrip said. “It will be years before Haiti recovers. There is still a lot to be done.”

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