By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
MEMBERS of the Miami Dolphins NFL organisation were in Grand Bahama showing their humanitarian support to Bahamians affected by Hurricane Dorian, distributing relief and care packages to several hard-hit communities on Saturday.
Bahamians have always been loyal fans of the Dolphins and it was indeed a special honour for them to help deliver care packages to residents of Heritage, Regency Park, and Hawksbill subdivisions, where many homes were severely flooded and damaged by storm surge.
Retired Miami Dolphin NFL players Mark Cooper, Jim Jensen, Jason Jenkins, and Louis Oliver were among the first group that arrived in Freeport around 9am. Their first stop was at the YMCA, where they helped pack care packages in the gymnasium for distribution to various communities.
The event was a major relief effort in partnership with the Miami Dolphins, Mission Resolve, the Rotary Club, and the National Emergency Management Agency.
The group also visited members of the nonprofit emergency food relief group World Central Kitchen at the Grand Lucayan Resort.
They also went to the Champs Community Centre in Hawksbill where they interacted with youth of the Falcons Boys Club and with residents, and helped to distribute hot meals to some 1,200 persons and supplies in that community. Their last stop was at Hope Force International home on Pioneers Way, ending a very busy day in Freeport before departing the island.
Mark Cooper recalled travelling to Grand Bahama in its hey day many years ago on vacations and was happy to return to the island to help Bahamians devastated by the storm.
"I used to come here back in '80s to have fun and enjoy myself, so why not come here and help out when help is needed," he said.
Jason Jenkins, Miami Dolphins senior VP of communications and community affairs, said that his heart goes out to the Bahamas and the Bahamian people.
"We are honoured to be here," said Mr Jenkins. "Our owner Stephen Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel understands we are true stewards of the community, and that through the Football Unites programme we want to make communities healthier, educated and more united, and being out here in Grand Bahama is a great testament to that. We want to make sure we are here for the long-term recovery efforts."
Mr Jenkins said they know many Bahamians are Dolphin fans, and that they want Grand Bahamians to know they intend to continue to support them.
"Being in proximity of South Florida, we are definitely appreciative of the support and we want to bring that support here. So, our heart goes out to the people who are suffering, but, more importantly, we want them to know we are here for them for the long term."
Patxi Pastor, co-founder of Mission Resolve Foundation, said the group was honoured to be part of the relief effort.
"The Miami Dolphins was kind enough to be one of our sponsors," he said.