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Local students help send jet from SRQ to Haiti

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A private Gulfstream jet is set to roar out of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport this morning en route to earthquake-stricken Haiti with two local doctors, several nurses, thousands of doses of antibiotics and other donated medical supplies.

Students from Out-of-Door Academy helped provide the supplies for the mercy flight.

Monday, they washed cars at Monty’s Pizza from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., raising more than $5,000 to contribute to the cause. Students also collected and packed food, water and medical supplies at the school campus to be loaded on the jet.

Cameron Deems, a 12th-grader at ODA, paused from washing cars to explain his need to get involved and help.

“I can’t imagine not knowing where your next meal is coming from or having to fight for water,” he said. “You can’t do anything for the dead, but you can help those still alive.”

David Mahler, headmaster of ODA, said the relief effort came together quickly in recent days.

“Ken Sanborn came to me and said he really wanted to do something,” Mahler said.

Sanborn, founder of Gyrocam Systems, provided the use of the Gulfstream jet for the mission to Haiti, and set in motion a drive to collect medicine and medical supplies from local practices and pharmacies.

Debby Frye, director of community service for ODA, pitched the idea of getting the students involved in the project to Mahler.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is often thought of as a day of service, she noted.

Mahler welcomed the idea — as did many of the students at ODA when it was announced to them at an assembly Friday.

“We created a list based on immediate need, and local families dropped off the supplies. Every grade was assigned a supply,” Mahler said.

Based on their grade, students and their families delivered everything from gauze to latex gloves and disinfectant.

Although Sanborn began planning the flight to Haiti last week, clearance to land in Haiti wasn’t received until Monday, given the chaotic and crowded conditions at the Port-au-Prince airport.

Ken and Trish Sanborn’s daughter, Jenna, a seventh-grader, attends ODA and was among those packing supplies Monday.

“You have to do something,” Trish Sanborn said. “You can’t just sit back and watch the suffering.”

Ken Sanborn was at ODA when two of the physicians, Dr. Frederic Monosiet and Dr. Abdiel Lorente, arrived to watch the preparations.

The two doctors will spend a week in Haiti.

“These people are in need,” Ken Sanborn said. “You can’t but want to help after watching the news.”

Another physician, cardiologist Kenny Hensen, worked through the holiday weekend to secure medical supplies from various donors.

Monosiet, a native of Haiti, said the tragedy is “heart-breaking” and “indescribable.”

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