I realize correspondence from me at this late date might be the height of absurdity. I'm not quite sure where I stand on the "naughty or nice" meter, but I thought you might make an exception this one time.
Now that I have you and the elves rolling in laughter, would you at least consider my request this year?
I am not making material demands on my behalf. I don't want clothes, cameras, televisions, or books. Nor do I want an iPad, Kindle or the hand-held electronic Sudoku games. I won't even ask for the Giants to win the World Series again (by the way, thanks for finally delivering on that one!)
This year, all I want is for Nike co-founder and Chairman Phil Knight to adopt Haiti.
That's right. Despite its centuries of political upheaval, I want Knight to adopt the poorest country in the Americas. I need not tell you that history, coupled with greed and lack of concern, have combined take an unfair levy on Haiti and its people.
The 7.0 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince earlier this year, despite global effort to help Haiti, leaves a country still in dire need of disaster relief.
Although the exact number was difficult to determine, reportedly more than 230,000 people were killed. The presidential palace and Parliament were among the buildings destroyed, along with countless homes and businesses. To this day, many remain homeless.
I realize the obvious candidate for this adoption is the United States. But the overarching historical ambivalence that the richest nation in world has shown for its poorest neighbor has changed little over centuries.
There was indeed an outpouring of support by many Americans after the earthquake. A fund led by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have raised approximately $52 million to date to fund programs that create jobs, teach skills and assist local businesses.
If the earthquake wasn't enough, the cholera epidemic, which an estimated 100,000 may have contracted, killing in excess of 2,400 people, is adding to the physical and social destruction of a nation whose infrastructure is nearly nonexistent.
Cold War fears caused America to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of former Haitian presidents Françoise Duvalier (Papa Doc) and his son Jean Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc). In fact, when you think about it Santa, this country's ongoing obsession with Cuba's Fidel Castro notwithstanding, in addition to the Duvaliers, more attention should have been given to the human atrocities by such notable allies like Augusto Pinochet (Chile), Anastasio Somoza (Nicaragua) and Castro's predecessor, Fulgencio Batista.
This brings me back to Knight. Nike has already given more than $500,000 to Haiti relief, but I feel Nike, led by Knight, could do more, much more.
Knight, who "adopted" the University of Oregon athletic program, has reportedly liquidated more than $1 billion of Nike stock that has gone toward the renovation and expansion of what is now the Knight Library. He's create endowed chairs and professorships as well as the construction of the William W. Knight Law Center, which was named in honor of his father.
The university has state of the art athletic facilities that are superior to many professional teams, and the tangible proof of Knight's commitment is the upcoming Bowl Championship Series title game between Oregon and Auburn.
In the world of intercollegiate athletics, being a booster who gives large sums of money often carries a negative connotation. But Knight's skills are transferable.
What could appear to be an overzealous booster with undo influence over university activities could also become a humanitarian of tremendous proportions if the focus were Haiti.
Santa, wouldn't you agree that Knight is the perfect person to turn Haiti's fortunes around? Just imagine what could be accomplished if Knight's unwavering commitment to put Oregon on the map athletically and academically could be tasted by those who for too long have toiled under the sweltering heat of hopelessness?
I know that I'm asking a lot. As I stated earlier, I'm not sure that my 2010 "naughty or nice" record warrants any consideration from you. But if you could convince Knight to do half as much for the people of Haiti as he's done for Oregon, I promise to be much better next year.
Merry Christmas, Santa!