More on the power of Laureus

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Getty Images for Laureus
Karen Washington, right, of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in the Bronx, N.Y., gives a tour of the neighborhood to Laureus members Edwin Moses and Monica Seles in 2005 to explain how their Fight Back Project has helped the local youth in the area.

More from today’s column (linked here) on how the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has been trying to focus more recently on helping the children of the U.S. after doing so much good around the world over last 10-plus year:

== Edwin Moses, on how he saw poverty around him while he was traveling around the world as an athlete, and how he sees it differently now:

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“When I was competing, we’d always stay at the nice hotels and eat at the nice restaurants. Even in places like Kenya, we’d see all the best the city had. But in the car rides through the town, we’d pass by the street urchins, go through the crime areas. Maybe we’d have someone take us on a side trip to the slum areas. We’d see kids playing in water that, if we were to put our hands into it with a cut, we’d be dead in two days.

“I was very aware of a lot of poverty around, but now it’s something I see very differently. And we’re doing something about it. We look them in the eye and say: We’re coming back and we’re going to help you. How many times have they heard that, but haven’t had anything delivered? We’re committed to three- and four-year projects. This is what we do. We make those kinds of commitments.”

== Moses, comparing the emotions he feels now accomplishing something as a humanitarian than when he was an athlete:

“Being an athlete with that lifestyle, and then getting into investment banking, those were the first things where I found some satisfaction. It’s avocation. You don’t have to think about how much work is involved, you just do it. In the last 10 years, I’ve gotten the same kind of energy surge as I did when I was running. Then, you’d ge tup and train, go through physical therapy, deal with injuries and compete. Maybe this is as close as I’ll get to that lifestyle again for the rest of my life. It means a lot to be a leader of such an organization like this. I guess when you want someone looking at your tombstone, you want them to know that you really made a difference.”

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Photo by Getty Images for Laureus
Marcus Allen, left, and Edwin Moses entertain the children with an exercise in the boxing ring during their visit at SV Stahl Schoeneweide in Berlin, Germany last November as part of a Laureus Sport for Good Project.

== Marcus Allen, on the group’s mission and why he wanted to be involved:

“The problems we have in the U.S. may be hidden more because we are such a rich nation, but there are kids out there all the time who fall under the radar andl need help. It might not be as blatant as some of the countries torn by civil war or extreme poverty, but there are neightbhods in the U.S. screaming out for foundations to do something for these kids. If we don’t invest in our kids, we’re bound to get in more trouble paying for them more in the long with the prison systems.

“We want to make more people aware of what we’re trying to do, partnering with other organizations and that’s a challenge for us, even with this economy as it is. Kids are still at risk and the fight must go on.”

== Allen, on how individuals can help:

“We need to scream our story. It’s unfortunate that controversial stuff travels faster than Volunteering with the organizations that are already out there is a great start to helping get the word out. It’s as simple as this phrase: Tell them, and they’ll forget; teach them, and they’ll remember. Now involve them, and they’ll understand.

“It’s incumbent for people to understand what we’re doing. Once you’re involved and have a personal interest, you can understand how important it is. We’re a cause greater than ourselves.

For us, it’s more important to be something more than just a grand slam winner, or a perfect 10 or a gold medalist. There’s something greater in life. That’s why we’re so involved in this.”

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More on the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation:

Founded: 2000

Mission statement: The belief that whatever the social problem facing a community, sport provides and effective vehicle by which transformation can happen. The Foundation’s aim is to fund and promote the use of sport as a tool for positive change.

Major sponsors: Daimler and Richemont.

Athletes involved: The group (linked here) includes chairman Edwin Moses, Marcus Allen, Nadia Comaneci, Marvin Hagler, Dan Marino, Tony Hawk, John McEnroe, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Monica Seles, Katarina Witt, Alberto Tomba, Daley Thompson and Mark Spitz.

More information: www.laureus.com

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