WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — It’s not uncommon for teams to take trips together with the hopes of bringing players closer together. But for some Purdue football players, a trip to an orphanage in South Africa changed their lives forever.
“Man, I had so much fun. I learned so much and I’m happy I got a chance to go before I left college,” said Purdue senior cornerback Da’Wan Hunte.
Spring break is typically a time for students to get away from everything and relax, but that’s not the case for Hunte. He and a few teammates spent more than a week volunteering at an orphanage located in Hammanskraal, South Africa.
“Those children over there, they always have a smile on their face, they are never looking down,” said Hunte. “And what really got to me was, they don’t know how much they are missing out with everything that we have over here.”
Hunte, who only has one year left before his college days are over, knows this is much bigger than football.
“To see those kids so happy in their place, it was just a blessing and I took a lot from it,” said Hunte.
This may have been Huntes’ first trip. But for one Purdue player, it’s his fifth.
“Oh yeah, everyone is like David! David! David! They just know him from him going so much. Those children love David [Blough] man,” said Hunte.
Purdue junior quarterback David Blough has become like family to the orphanage.
“The first time I went, there were 44 orphans and they were all just names,” Blough explained. “And now, I go back and they are my friends.”
Blough, who’s in the middle of learning a brand new offense, wasn’t going to let that stand in the way of making it back to South Africa.
“The men, the women, the kids have been affected by HIV or AIDS – and that’s the reason they are orphans,” he said. “So a familiar face to them is honestly a hero. And I don’t look at it that way, but they do and it means a lot to me to be someone they can look up to and be a role model.”
This program was all started by the Purdue athletic chaplain Marty Dittmar.
“It’s been tremendous to see the enthusiasm that’s happened around the program,” Dittmar said. “We’ve had people like David go numerous times, and that’s really helpful for the kids down there when they see young people returning.”
For Blough, he knows this translates to all parts of life.
“It’s something where we will be able to say, ‘Hey, practice might be tough today, but I guarantee it isn’t as bad as digging that trench and it was 90 degrees,'” said Blough.
And he knows he will be back to South Africa.
“There’s a part where this is incredibly sad. I don’t know the next time I get to be back here,” Blough said. “To me … I’m going to be back and I know l’ll get to see these guys again. And I know I’ll get to see these young boys and girls grow up, and I’ll get to be a part of them growing up.”
There is another trip this May that other athletes will be going on, Blough plans on going back next spring.
If you would like to donate to the trips, visit the Purdue website.