Eastern Kentucky scores big on Haiti mission trip

Richmond, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - It's another touchdown for the Eastern Kentucky football program.

For the third consecutive year, members of the Colonels program recently went on a week-long mission trip to Haiti to serve with the Hands and Feet Project. Head coach Dean Hood and assistant coaches Garry Fisher and Jake Johnson led a group of 20 players.

"The trip is always a humongous dose of perspective," Hood said. "When you get down there, you realize we are very blessed to have the things we have in America. Haiti is the poorest of the poor."

The Colonels helped an orphanage in Jacmel begin an aquaponics farm, with the goal of making the orphanage self-sustaining with food consisting of fish, vegetables and fruit. The players also painted buildings and moved cement and rock.

"What we accomplished in one week, they said would have taken seven weeks," junior tight end Jon Floyd said. "They called us the Haitian Bulldozers."

In recent years, the Colonels have sponsored a boy in the orphanage. Each month, the Colonels' coaches take up a voluntary collection from the players to send to the Hands and Feet Project. The money provides school uniforms, medicine and food for the boy.

The players who went on the trip were Stanley Absanon, Jalen Allen, Jared Bowling, Zack Burgy-VanHoose, Floyd, Vincent Green, Raynaldy Gustave, Robby Irgang, JJ Jude, Alex Klingel, Cameron Kowalewski, Tyler Malone, Taylor Miller, Marquise Piton, Avery Pitt, ShaQuille Prather, Kagen Skidmore, Tyler Swafford, Trey Thomas and Kamaree' Walden.

"I couldn't be prouder of the work our guys did and their interaction with the kids," Hood said. "Lots of people take mission trips to the orphanage in the summer, but not many of the people can handle the physicality of some of the projects like our guys can. What they accomplished was unbelievable."

Eastern Kentucky went 9-4 and made the FCS playoffs last season, finishing No. 21 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25. The Colonels, from the Ohio Valley Conference, will kick off their 2015 season by hosting Valparaiso on Sept. 3.