Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baseball Team and Fans Help Haiti

Season Tickets Raffle Raises Funds and Awareness

A sense of normalcy is taking shape in Haiti, as government officials sort out the best logistical way to relocate the estimated 400,000 evacuees in the country, to a number of areas on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Volunteers are making strides as they clean up debris and human feces that clutter many streets in the devastated capital city. Food and supplies from across the world is making its way at a considerable pace to some of the most needy survivors.

Eight days after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed the place nearly two million people called home, sporadic good news brings about a minute sigh of relief. Late Wednesday, after a 5.9-magnitude quake aftershock sent survivors and soldiers scrambling for shelter, a relative walked into a makeshift hospital with his five-year-old nephew. The boy had been trapped beneath rubble since the Jan. 12 quake. The boy needed immediate medical care, like thousands wounded or exhausted, as a result of the natural disaster.

Volunteer doctors are performing surgical procedures in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Looting is a growing safety concern, as some survivors take drastic and dangerous methods, in an attempt to get food or water. In the midst of all the suffering, sorrow and shockingly squalid conditions is an international relief effort that includes monetary, military and medical support. Even with the nearly $1 billion in foreign aid and the $170 million the White House recently pledged to help Haiti recover, the need is still substantial. While the need is great, the general consensus is that every little bit helps. You can text a donation to the Red Cross, volunteer as a translator or help sort donated food bound for Haiti being collected at many non-profits, depending on your hometown.

A Minor League baseball team in Bowie, MD, just outside of Washington, DC is giving fans a chance to donate by taking a chance on season tickets. “We are very optimistic that our fans will come through,” says Tom Sedlacek, communications manager for the Bowie Baysox.

The team is partnering with U.S. Fund for UNICEF and gives fans the chance to win season tickets by purchasing a $10 raffle ticket. UNICEF’s global humanitarian efforts focus mainly on providing children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, and emergency relief. “One of the reasons we picked UNICEF is because 100 percent of the money raised will go to support the organization’s relief efforts that benefit the children of Haiti,” says Sedlacek. While the natural disaster may go on record as one of the worst quakes in history, the outpouring of logistical and physical support, national military forces and millions in monetary donations show us all that the best can come from the worst.

The raffle lasts until 5 p.m., Jan. 29.The winner will have a baseball fan’s perfect view of the game because the tickets are for the lower reserved section of the stadium. Team officials estimate the value of the season tickets at more than $1,100.00. For more information and to take a chance on the tickets, while making a difference, log on to

The winner will be announced on Friday, Feb. 5.

For more information about UNICEF, log on to

Please forward all questions, comments or concerns about this article to Maniko Barthelemy at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Resolution to Quit Needs Support

Cigarettes More Addictive than Cocaine or Heroin

In some circles, quit is a bad word. However, around this time of the year as people look within to improve their lives, it’s the perfect way to define a means to a healthy end. High on the list of better choices and upgrades to one’s life throughout the year, sits a very popular New Year’s resolution. Millions across the country undoubtedly took a vow to take back their health by dropping a health hazard, cigarettes. Now with less than two weeks into the battle against cigarettes a significant number of smokers may relapse.

Through the eyes of a nonsmoker, the habit seems simple enough to kick. However, Dr. Elmer Huerta, director of the Cancer Preventorium at the Washington Hospital Center, says the general perception is misguided. “It takes a smoker at least 11 tries before he or she is successful at quitting,” says Huerta. Cigarettes are 10 times more addictive than cocaine and it’s easier to quit heroin than cigarettes. So why is it so difficult?

The threat of cancer and other health problems like heart disease and emphysema although prevalent in a profusion of commercials fail to drastically scare millions of smokers straight. “Smokers have a way of thinking that that kind of stuff only happens to other people,” says Dr. Huerta. “It’s not until someone gets a life changing diagnosis from a doctor that they usually take quitting seriously,” he adds. Even with the threat of life and death, there’s a level of extreme difficulty attached to the desire and need to quit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 43 million people smoke cigarettes. At around $6 a pack, depending on where you live, cigarettes are a cheap thrill. While cities across the country have banned smoking in public areas, there is a steady Hollywood glossing over of the damaging effects of cigarettes. In less than 30 seconds, you could name at least one popular actor who lights up a cigarette and makes it look cool. Hollywood gives the impression that smoking has no ramifications. The television or movie star who puffs with pizazz or makes interesting designs with the smoke that leaves his or her mouth is routinely portrayed as the smartest, hippest or coolest protagonist anyone would ever want to meet.

The reality is the Hollywood curtain skews what happens, if the smoker decides to quit. Of the 4,000 toxic ingredients smokers inhale with every puff, nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar have reportedly the most devastating consequences. Research shows, within the first 24 hours of quitting, all the nicotine leaves the smoker’s body, his heart rate and blood pressure drops, as well as the extremely high levels of carbon monoxide in the blood.
However, the next few days are crucial. The body reacts to the loss of nicotine, which is the highly addictive drug component in cigarettes. “You become irritable, nervous and depressed,” says Dr. Huerta. “If you stick it out, three days later your body is better but you still have the tar and that stays on your lungs at least 15 to 20 years,” he adds.

The flood of immediate complications associated with quitting smoking cause a number of smokers to relapse. Surprisingly, it’s part of what it takes to beat the odds and should not serve as a deterrent. When it happens, however, Dr. Huerta says it's the perfect time for the smoker’s support system to go to work. “It’s a step by step process. The first step is the commitment level of the smoker and family members should not laugh if the person relapses.”
While some smokers possess an amazing ability to quit cold turkey, they are the exception and not the rule. Every year, nearly estimated 443,000 smokers die prematurely because of illnesses caused by smoking.

Experts encourage anyone serious about a pursuing smoke free life to combine their promise with a cessation program, over the counter medication and positive reinforcement. “It means changing your routine, just like if you were on a diet,” says Dr. Huerta.

For help, contact the following organizations:

 American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345
 American Legacy Foundation at

Please forward all story comments, suggestions or questions to Maniko Barthelemy at Thanks for logging onto the site. Please encourage others to visit.