Xavier hoops helping send students on mission trip

NORWOOD, OH (FOX19) - The Xavier Musketeers men's basketball team is giving fans a chance to provide healthcare to a remote Guatemalan village on Saturday without leaving their seats.

Twelve Xavier pre-professional students, four medical professionals and two staff members will give up a week of their winter break and New Year's Eve celebrations to serve the remote Guatemalan mountain village of Patanatik. Students making the trip will canvass fans outside the Cintas Center and on the arena concourse on Sat., Dec. 3 when the 11th-ranked Musketeers host the Purdue Boilermakers. The game starts at 3 p.m.

The team needs $50,000 to fly, feed and house 18 people for one week. Funds raised will be used to buy pharmaceuticals and provide life-giving medical attention to the villagers during the week in the Mayan villages. Before the Xavier team's initial visit earlier this year, no doctor had ever visited that community of 584 families. The group has now made the Patanatik region its annual service location.

"We are doubly fortunate," says Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier's Office of Interfaith Community Engagement and the leader of the trip. "Xavier has both exceptional basketball and a lifestyle that is not short of blessing. The people of Guatemala have so little and though I doubt we will ever recruit a Guatemalan player, I do know that our medical mission brings great blessing in Xavier's name to the impoverished community."

This is the third such trip for Xavier students under Rabbi Ingber. In Jan., 2010, he led a highly successful interfaith medical mission trip to Jamaica. The group spent 4.5 days visiting 511 patients among old slave huts in remote regions of Steer Town, Jamaica. A planned trip to Haiti last year was cancelled because of political unrest. That led the team to Guatemala, where they spent four days seeing 384 people and two days making 75 home visits.

"The learning curve, the experiential growth and the community building strengthening of our students' commitment to the healing professions and service are the hallmarks of these trips," says Ingber. "Our spiritual dimension and the Jesuit values we bring enhance our offering."

Every student has committed at least 20 hours at a Mercy Health Partners free clinic upon their return from Patanatik – either the Muslim Free Clinic in Anderson or the OBGyn clinic in Fairfield.

If you would like to help the team reach Guatemala, bring a cash donation to the Xavier men's basketball game on Sat., Dec. 3 or send a tax-deductible donation to Xavier University Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, 3800 Victory Pkwy. ML 2120, Cincinnati, OH 45207. Please make checks payable to "Xavier University – IFCE." Call (513) 745-3569 with any questions.

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