Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura may be locked out of the Ravens training facility right now due to the owner-imposed work stoppage, but right now he’s been worrying about far more important matters in his personal life.
Nakamura, in his third year out of Cincinnati after being drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, just last week had the weight of a country’s disaster resting on his shoulders as the killer tsunami and earthquakes devastated his ancestral nation of Japan.
However, it didn’t take long for the Ravens safety to react to the tragedy. Within days, Nakamura already began work in trying to raise money for the relief effort over in Japan, as the death toll is already over 5,000 people and rising.
Numerous more individuals could be affected by radiation poisoning due to reactor leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
And his time off for the NFL lockout could be a blessing in disguise for Nakamura, who joined “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider last week to talk about his efforts in trying to help his homeland as best he could from his position.
“It’s unbelievable what’s going on over there with the fact that the whole nuclear power plant has basically failed,” Nakamura told Snider. “All the reactors have failed. There’s fires. There’s explosions…all on top of what happened with the earthquake and the tsunami. It just seems real dark over there.”
Nakamura said that football is the least of his concerns right now as he slowly has gotten word of the safety of friends and family-including his half brother-in the Land of the Rising Sun.
“This is one of those things where football seems so small and to help a country-especially one having roots with me being a Japanese-American-it’s one of those things where they’re saying the death total could reach over 10,000 people, which would be the death total of Katrina, it just puts it in perspective,” Nakamura said.
What Nakamura has in mind was to raise money for the Red Cross, who have already been hard at work over the last two weeks in the cleanup, rescue, and rebuilding process over in Japan from the tsunami and earthquake.
“As of right now, we’re going to leave it in the Red Cross’ hands because they know specifically where to put it in the places hit most,” Nakamura said. “They’ve been doing this for countless years and what we’re going to do is the fundraiser part and we’ll let them do their part.”
And how does he intend to do his part?
By getting a little help from his friends.
Nakamura has been working with Cal Ripken Jr. and his team in the hopes of putting together an autograph session at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen featuring the likes of Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Ed Reed, running back Ray Rice and countless other Ravens with proceeds gained through admission benefiting the Red Cross’ efforts.
“It’s very unfortunate with what they’re going through and it’s just one of those things where what we’re trying to do is try to put together a fundraiser in order to raise money to send over there.”
Nakamura hasn’t set a date as of yet, but he told Snider that he is aiming for either Saturday or Sunday the weekend of April 2nd at Ripken Stadium for the autograph session to occur.
And since his public outcry for help last week through various media outlets and his willingness to not only lead the effort but to reward those who offer their support, Nakamura has received help from all areas and ages-including some young Ravens fans.
“It’s just one of those things where we want to do as much as we can to raise money,” the Ravens safety said. “I was recently contacted by an elementary school kid who emailed Ken Murray who then emailed me, and said ‘Hey, this kid wants to know how he can help’. It’s become very neat to see how people are getting involved and there’s some young ambassadors out there who are trying to make a difference already.”
And word has reached out as well to a battered but resilient Japan. One of Nakamura’s friends in Japan is a reporter for one of the biggest television stations in the country, and she has already told Nakamura when the event in Aberdeen does take place, she will be there to cover it.
Nakamura was almost shocked by that response and to see that his fellow Japanese countrymen were wishing him well when it was they who had no homes and didn’t have six-figure salaries like Nakamura under their belts that needed the prayers, it was mind-boggling.
But, Nakamura said that same determination and resilience will allow the Japanese to move on from this disaster better than any other country in the world.
“The biggest thing about the culture is that they’re so calm and collected and they’re a very disciplined group of people and always focused on the good of things,” he said. “And they focus on being resilient and making sure that this won’t be as devasting as what it seems right now.”
“It’s pretty cool, but it’s greater to know that they’re safe,” he said. “We’re just keeping our hopes and prayers up that this will end as quickly as possible.”
WNST wishes Haruki Nakamura all the best in helping to raise money for those affected by the tsunami, earthquakes, and nuclear trouble over in Japan! As soon as the official details are released about the event, WNST will keep you informed! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!