After Super Bowl, Vilma plans trip to Haiti to help

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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma plans to visit his parents' homeland of Haiti after the Super Bowl is over and make a hands-on contribution to relief efforts in the earthquake struck country.

Vilma will line up against the Indianapolis Colts, who feature wide-receiver Pierre Garcon also of Haitian descent, in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Miami, Vilma's hometown, has a large Haitian community and he has been involved in raising cash, via a special tee-shirt, to help rebuild a country where members of his family still live.

"In the position I'm in right now where I'm really restricted in what I can do, it's really about doing something positive, doing something effective right now and then being more efficient once the season is over with," Vilma told reporters.

"In general, my intentions are to go down there and be productive. You hear a lot of people just going down and saying, 'Look at the devastation,' and that's what they're reporting back. Well, that's a given. That's obvious.

"I want to go down there and help, whether it be to clear out the devastation, try to help build homes, whatever it is I want to go down and not just look around and say it's a sad situation. We all know it's a sad situation. What can I do to help the situation?"

The are 16 players of Haitian descent playing in the NFL and Colts wide receiver Garcon is probably the best known.

Garcon marked his team's AFC Championship win over the New York Jets, which booked their place at the Super Bowl, by lifting up a Haitian flag on the field and he has helped a Christian group with their fund-raising efforts.

"I'm trying to give them a little hope and trying to help as much as I can and do something positive for them. So far, I'm very pleased with what we have done with a lot of help and support and I know we couldn't do it by ourselves. I've been in touch with Haiti and I'm very pleased with what we have done," said Garcon.

Garcon also intends for the Haitian flag to be present during the Super Bowl -- probably via a bandana and, he hopes, with another victory parade.

"Hopefully, we will win and I will have the flag out there with me," he said.

(Editing by Alison Wildey)