Yankees legend Jorge Posada and wife Laura bring relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico in late September with unprecedented force. The Category 5 storm goes on record as the strongest to hit the island in 85 years. Families were displaced, businesses were destroyed and homes were pummeled.
From the moment the storm hit land, baseball legend Jorge Posada and his wife, Laura, have made it their mission to help their homeland recover.
"We immediately knew we had to do something," said Jorge, who played 17 seasons for the New York Yankees.The pair started a fund to benefit Puerto Rico and now consider raising money for the island a full-time job.
As of this publishing date, the Posadas' Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Foundation has raised more than $500,000 worth of supplies and funds, which are continually distributed throughout the island. Their most significant single haul was in late October, when they filled up a FedEx plane, generously donated by the courier company, to deliver more than 162,000 pounds of cargo, which included water, food and diapers.
"Jorge took the first trip down to Puerto Rico. He was our eyes on the ground. He was able to assess the situation and truly communicate what was needed," said Laura.
But water and food weren't the only necessities. Laura's father, a San Juan-based diabetic who regularly takes insulin, served as another call to action. Many islanders were unable to obtain necessary medical attention, and the Posadas wanted to lend a hand.
"[Jorge and I] transported 200 patients from Puerto Rico to Miami for treatment. We wanted to ensure that people that needed dialysis, chemotherapy or had other critical conditions could get care," added Laura.
The Posadas went on to donate $10,000 worth of medical supplies to Baptist Medical Hospital of Miami and through the partnership are sending health-care essentials back to the island.
They also tapped into their personal network and drummed up support from other pro athletes and notables through a posh fundraiser held at the Hunt & Fish Club in New York City in November. Former Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams, current Bronx Bomber CC Sabathia and others were all in attendance. That evening alone garnered another $200,000 for their efforts.
"We just hope that people keep supporting us," said Jorge. "People cannot forget that Puerto Rico is still in need."
According to the island's governor, Ricardo Rossello, the rebuild of Puerto Rico will cost $94 billion. So the Posadas keep plugging away.
In early December, they partnered with Acqualina Resort & Spa, a luxury hotel in Miami. The hotelier agreed to donate appliances and furniture from 125 units that are undergoing a remodel. The items will be delivered throughout the island and to those who evacuated Puerto Rico for Miami. Derek Jeter, Jorge's former teammate, and his charitable Turn 2 Foundation stepped in to handle the delivery of the furnishings in early 2018.
"We're going to bring refrigerators, washers, dryers, beds, mattresses and even coffee makers to those who lost everything," said Laura.
With the holidays fast approaching, the Posadas also have the children of Puerto Rico on their minds. "We want to bring toys in for Three Kings Day, which is [Jan. 6]. It's a significant holiday for local kids," added Laura. And through a partnership with Pennsylvania-based toy manufacturer Wicked Cool Toys, they will send 30 pallets of gifts to the island.
All efforts made by the Posadas' hurricane relief foundation are 100 percent donations. The couple personally cover all administrative fees and don't compensate themselves for their work.
"This is where we were born and raised," noted Jorge. "We owe this to our island."