PUERTO RICO - Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig has been joined by Maria Sharapova on a trip back to her homeland of Puerto Rico to aid relief efforts from last month's devastating hurricanes and help bring much needed supplies the victims.
The Caribbean island suffered major damage after being struck by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September, with as much as 90% of Puerto Rico remaining without power.
Puig set up a fundraising page in the aftermath of the storm, which has so far generated almost $150,000. The 24-year-old also dedicated her run to the final of last week's BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open to the people of Puerto Rico.
Sharapova "fell in love" with the island and its people after playing an exhibition match against Puig in San Juan last December. The Russian has promised all profits from internet sales of her candy Sugarpova for the remainder of 2017 will go towards the relief effort.
Puig and Sharapova handed out supplies, including 1000 solar powered light/radio units, 1250 gas stoves, 3000 propane cylinders to power the stoves, and medicine for San Jorge’s Children’s Hospital. Additionally, 200 cell phones were donated locally by ATT, Puig’s sponsor, as well as pre-packed bags of groceries provided by the Red Cross and the Ricky Martin Foundation.
Following a meeting with Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello upon arrival at the airport, the players visited patients at San Jorge’s Children’s Hospital and donated the purchased medical supplies. Following the hospital visit, the players made their way to the town of Loiza in one of the hardest hit areas of Puerto Rico and distributed Puig's supplies to the thousands of waiting residents.
"We know how amazing the people are and we just want to spend some time with them," Sharapova said at a news conference. "We are professional tennis players but at the end of the day we are humans and we feel their pain and we want to share these moments with them."
WTA Charities is the WTA's global philanthropic organization dedicated to making a positive impact across the globe. Our mission is to be a social responsibility vehicle built on the WTA's values to empower and provide for a better future. We're dedicated to combining, strengthening and enhancing the community and charitable efforts of the WTA through its members (players, alumnae and tournaments), along with our partners.