Former prep football foes D.J. Anneaud and Seth Winkel join forces to help Haiti

twolfrum@bradenton.comJuly 12, 2013 

SARASOTA -- Prep football is all about loyalty.

Loyalty to your school, loyalty to your community and loyalty to the few dozen guys you share a locker room with every Friday night.

It's you against anyone wearing a different set of colors.

"When you're in high school, all you have is high school life," said Seth Winkel, a 2005 Palmetto grad and a center on the school's football team. "I knew being at Palmetto that Southeast and Manatee were the big rivals, and it was, 'We hate 'em, we hate 'em, we hate 'em.' You lived for Friday nights."

Winkel is headed to Haiti on July 14 on a mission trip with approximately 50 other people. Among that group is D.J. Anneaud, a former football player at Southeast who also graduated in 2005.

Enemies on the field, the two are partners off it, joined together in a cause much greater than trying to win a football game.

It began during a June conference call. Though Anneaud and Winkel weren't close during their high school days, Winkel knew a certain voice sounded familiar.

"Everyone introduced themselves, and he recognized my voice and my name," Anneaud said. "Once he said who he was, we just reconnected, and it went from there."

The mission trip includes volunteers from the Christian Family Church in Sarasota, where Winkel serves as the media director, as well as the partnering CFC in Tampa. Organizations making the trip include Hearts Afire, Inc., and Caring4Haiti, established in 2010 in Tampa by the CFC.

"Our church is very mission-oriented," said Winkel, who lives in Sarasota and works as a bank teller. "I wanted to go on a mission. I've been on a few missions to Mexico, and once you get that itch, you don't want to stop. During a meeting in January, they asked for volunteers, and it just went from there."

A registered nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Anneaud was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when he was 6. This marks his second mission to his native country.

"My father has always instilled the aspect of love -- love one another and the people around you," he said. "Through my church (Solid Rock International Worship Center in Bradenton), I've seen what love is and how important it is to care for people. And I've always had the desire to help those who cannot help themselves."

The mission team lands in the Dominican Republic on the 14th and will spend the mornings crossing the border into Haiti. Anneaud will put his medical background to work by helping patients at the triage center, though he said the healing will not strictly be physical.

"We'll be praying with them," he said, "and spreading the gospel. And in that sense, we will treat them holistically and spiritually, as well.

"You have to treat them emotionally, physically, psychologically -- in every aspect. That's what the whole word of Jesus and Christianity is all about."

Winkel's church owns property in Haiti, and he will be assisting in construction of an orphanage.

"We're bringing hope," Winkel said, "and health to people who don't have it."

Such altruism is what has turned the one-time foes into teammates.

"We have a shared desire to help people," said Anneaud, who connected with Winkel on Facebook as soon as the June conference call ended. "We want to spread the love."

And now that they have reconnected, Winkel and Anneaud may join forces again soon.

"I definitely see us working together in the future, be it Haiti, or stuff in town, or going elsewhere," Winkel said. "I see this as the beginning of a partnership."

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