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A Look Back on Ole Miss Football’s Spring Break Mission Work in Haiti

Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Last week, select members of the Ole Miss football program and support staff gave up their spring break for the third year in a row to serve others by doing mission work in Camp Marie, Haiti.

A 28-person group representing Ole Miss made the return trip to Camp Marie to help provide valuable irrigation to the crops of Haitian farmers. In previous trips, the Rebels helped dig a well to provide clean water for the same village.

Head Coach Hugh Freeze emphasized the value this trip has not only for those he’s serving, but also the Ole Miss players and staff.

“That trip never disappoints in the realm of making you grateful and thankful for what we have here,” Freeze said. “It is a difficult trip for me the older I get, but it’s worth it to a lot of families and kids.”

The Rebels’ senior quarterback Chad Kelly was on the trip for the second straight year, bringing along teammates Talbot BuysArmani Linton and Sean Rawlings.

“It was amazing,” Kelly said. “You have the opportunity to kind of take a step back and realize how thankful you really are to be here in the United States and have the opportunity to play at a great university. A lot of those kids grow up in a certain situation and they can’t really get out of it. For us, to be able to go over there and put smiles on kids’ faces, that’s what it’s all about. We’re thankful we are able to go there and help them.”

Ole Miss partnered with the 410 Bridge organization, which has provided continued support for the Haitians that call Camp Marie home. With the help of 410 Bridge and the Rebels, Camp Marie is now closer to being able to take higher steps and see economic growth as a village.

Senior executive associate athletics director Stephen Ponder and his family joined the trip this year, and Ponder also spoke on the weight of the trip.

“I know that for my family and the others on the trip from Ole Miss, seeing the need for basic things like water, food, shelter and clothing was overwhelming at times,” Ponder said. “We can take things for granted so easily at home, so seeing this up close and personal made a lasting impact.”

Ponder, being the only senior administrator on the trip this year, reflected on the lasting impact trips like this can make on the young people.

“I think it is so important that our student-athletes learn so much more about life outside their sport,” Ponder added. “Seeing how fortunate we are every day, taking advantage of opportunities before us and keeping things in perspective are valuable teaching moments that our coaches can use to transform lives on our teams. Coach Freeze does a great job of utilizing football as a platform for a higher purpose to change lives.”

Along with several other members of the Ole Miss Athletics family and support staff, coaches Corey Batoon and Maurice Harris and their families joined the trip as well this year.

“We are well known in that village,” Freeze added. “They love to see the Ole Miss group there and to see them get fresh water and the joy they have for getting it is pretty humbling. It always ends up impacting us more than it’s impacting them.”

Freeze added that his foundation, the Freeze Foundation, has committed continued assistance to Camp Marie’s irrigation growth in the future.

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter at @OleMissFB, as well as Facebook and Instagram. For more information, visit www.OleMissSports.com.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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