MANKATO, Minn. –Football is Emmanuel Lamur's world. Haiti is his heart.
Less than four months before Lamur arrived at training camp hoping to make an impact on the field, he made quite the difference off of it. The linebacker returned prior to organized team activities from his seventh trip to Haiti, where he spent time volunteering at Mission of Grace orphanage.
"We go there to be present and spend quality time with the kids," Lamur said. "Some of them lost parents in the earthquake, and some of their parents abandoned them. That's where we come in – we just show them love."
Mission of Grace is run by a close family friend, and Lamur is grateful for every opportunity he has to spend time there making a difference. One image that is hard for Lamur to forget is seeing orphaned children, as young as 2 and 3 years old, wandering the streets without food or clothing. It's a familiar sight for Lamur, but one he can't get used to.
"I have nieces and nephews, and they're at home playing with Power Wheels and those nice things," Lamur said. "When I go back to Haiti, they don't even know what toys look like.
"It's always been a special place in my heart just to help out these kids," Lamur added. "They're happy without having anything. I just want to know how that feels – you have nothing, but what makes you happy? What's keeping that smile on your face? That's what makes me go back every time. It does something to me – it humbles me in a way. It reminds me to be grateful for the little things in life."
In his April 2016 trip to Haiti, Lamur – along with his twin brother, Sammuel – traveled with JBF Worldwide, an organization led by former Vikings safety Jack Brewer, CEO of The Brewer Group. The trip was part of JBF Worldwide's ongoing Global Ambassadors Program, which aims to connect influential individuals to philanthropic organizations while traveling the world to make positive impacts in communities.
Fellow ambassadors who also attended the Haiti trip included former defensive tackle Tommie Harris and former running back Clinton Portis, among other current players and alumni.
"Emmanuel represents a growing number of Haitian American players in the NFL that are not only making a positive impact in the U.S. but on the ground in their country," Brewer said. "Emmanuel clearly exemplified this through his participation in my foundation's Global Ambassadors trip to Haiti and continues to give back through his ongoing, tireless efforts.
"On behalf of JBF Worldwide, it is an extreme honor to be able to align with passionate men such as Emmanuel who dedicate [so much time not only to their sport but to humanity]. The Minnesota Vikings are fortunate to have Emmanuel on their team, and the organization and the entire State of Minnesota should continue to get behind him and his global efforts."
Lamur plans to personally sponsor individual children – "maybe four or five or whatever God has for me" – after the 2016 season. His sponsorships would ensure a better quality of lifestyle and education.
"I'm big on education and on helping others," Lamur said. "Just manifesting my love through these kids in whatever way possible."
Lamur recently established his own charity to support children in Haiti. The Lamur Foundation, run by he and his brothers, is geared toward encouraging and empowering inner city kids and giving back to the community. Lamur posted the following on his personal Instagram account:
"I grew up with very little, fighting to make my dream become a reality. Now it's their turn. We want to bring hope to these kids to let them know that their dreams can come true."
The foundation officially launched less than a month ago. On July 9, the group presented a $20,000 donation to the Youth Enrichment Association for Academics and Athletics in Boynton Beach, Florida, for new youth football uniforms and helmets after they were stolen.
"We gathered information, we talked to commissioners and mayors, we came [out of our] pockets and people also donated. The King's Academy High School, they donated helmets," Lamur said. "At the end of the day, it's all about these kids. As long as they're happy, that's all that matters, really. It's been great so far. That was just the first event of course, but it's going to grow over time."