Steve Zakuani
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Seattle players, fans lead Haiti fundraiser

Troubled by the devastation in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, Seattle Sounders FC players Steve Zakuani and James Riley are doing something about it. In cooperation with supporters' group Gorilla FC, Zakuani and Riley will be hosting a charity event at Seattle's George and Dragon Pub. The event will take place from 5:30-9 p.m. PT.

The fundraiser, which has gained steam throughout the past week, came about after Zakuani expressed his concern over the situation in a Facebook status update. That post was seen by Gorilla FC's Kevin Zelko, who approached him about holding a fundraiser to coincide with Saturday's friendly between the United States and Honduras.

"I come from what's considered a third-world country," said Zakuani, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) before moving to London at a young age. "I've always had a conscience when it comes to countries like that.

"I was watching the images on TV and I didn't like what I was seeing. Babies stuck under buildings and parents being ripped away from their children and I thought, 'What can I do?' I can't go to Haiti, but I can use the small platform I have now to raise some amount of resources to help people."

Riley, Zakuani, and possibly some other teammates will be on hand for an autograph session after a viewing of the U.S.-Honduras match on Saturday night. Additionally, Gorilla FC will be raffling off Sounders FC merchandise, including game-worn shoes from Zakuani and Patrick Ianni. Other merchandise is rolling in and the club has provided glossy photographs of the team for autographs, which can also be obtained for a small suggested donation.

All proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders Emergency Relief. An anonymous donor has pledged to match all proceeds up to $2,500 dollars and Zelko is actively pursuing additional corporate sponsors. According to Zelko, the sentiment to assist the victims of the earthquake is resonating in the local community.

"It's been wonderful and everyone has been asking how they can help," Zelko said.

As of Tuesday night, the official Facebook event page listed 118 attendees which would push the capacity of the host pub. Event organizers are expecting a capacity crowd and are advising people to arrive early.

According to Zelko, Gorilla FC regularly hosts quarterly charity events, the first of which netted $300. The generosity of the Sounders FC players has made it possible to put on an event that will surely top that sum.

"Just to get to here feels pretty good," Zelko said.

For his part, Zakuani was happy to rally his fellow teammates to assist with the cause.

"I think if the whole world can come together and look after (the Haitian people), then they can slowly -- and it will be a long process -- get back onto their feet," Zakuani said.

Andrew Winner is a contributor to

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