Ward kicks off his new charity

Korea's mixed-race kids to reap benefit

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SEOUL, South Korea -- Hines Ward announced yesterday the establishment of a foundation to help mixed-race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination.

Ward, a Korean-American, pledged an initial $1 million in U.S. funds ($785,000 Korean) to the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation, a portion of which will be given in his mother's name to express his gratitude for her sacrifice when she worked three jobs at once during his upbringing.

"I know what it's like to endure teasing and to be treated differently because of the color of your skin or looks of your eyes," the Steelers' receiver said at a Seoul news conference.

Ward, 30, shot to sudden fame in the country where he was born, South Korea, after winning the most valuable player award at the Super Bowl. He was born to an African-American soldier father and Korean mother and grew up in the United States.

He made his first trip here as an adult last month, and he was given a welcome befitting a state leader, meeting the president and receiving honorary Seoul city citizenship.

On that visit, Ward also met with children being assisted by Pearl S. Buck International, and he also donated $50,000 to that organization on his current trip to help mixed-heritage children.

Mixed-race children are subjected to harassment in South Korea, where the conservative Confucian society emphasizes pure blood ties. Ward's newfound popularity has drawn renewed media attention to the subject.

Ward was to leave Seoul today so he could focus on preparing for the 2006 season with Steelers. He asked Koreans to wish him luck.

Lee Jin-man, Associated Press
Steelers Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, with his son Jadon, announces his $1 million pledge towards a foundation to keep mixed-race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination.
Click photo for larger image.


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