Broncos' Carter takes charity trip to Africa

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — When he decided as a senior in high school to start his own charitable foundation, Denver Broncos safety Quinton Carter never dreamed he’d be able to help so many people.

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Now, his charitable works are taking him to another continent.

Carter joined a group of NFL players and celebrities Friday to begin a two-week charitable trip to the African nations of Uganda and Tanzania to bring some attention to people in need. Carter says the effort led by the charity Pros For Africa will dig water wells and provide hearing aids and food to people in need, including refugees from a long-running conflict.

Carter started his own foundation — Serving Others through Unity and Leadership — and organized a free Thanksgiving dinner for needy people in the Norman area during his All-American career at Oklahoma. Now that he has moved on to the NFL, he’s finding that his foundation is growing and his opportunities to work with others and help charitable causes are expanding, too.

"I’d never seen it even growing to this big of a foundation. To see myself teaming up with other organizations and things like that, it’s just crazy," Carter said.

Carter said the NFL players scheduled for the trip include Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis, Tommie Harris and Santonio Holmes.

"I hear Miley Cyrus is going to be there, so that’s pretty star-studded," said Carter, who just completed his rookie year with Denver. "I’ll feel like a regular person on the trip."

The need for help in the Central African region recently moved into the spotlight when it was featured in a YouTube campaign focused on stopping rebel leader Joseph Kony, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

"I know it means something different to us than it means to everybody else who’s getting involved because it’s cool, not really knowing the story behind everything," Carter said. "Seeing these people in real life, seeing their struggles."

Carter initially wanted to go with the Pros for Africa group on a charitable trip two years ago but was unable to do it while he was still in school. So, there have been two years of anticipation leading up to this point — and a little bit of jitters for his first time leaving the United States.

Like in his other endeavors, Carter considers it all worth it for a simple payoff.

"It’s the smiles. When you see those smiles, you just know you touched people. Seeing people cry because you touch them, it’s an unexplainable feeling," Carter said.

"I’m just doing what I can, the least I can do. It goes to show you the power that athletes and entertainers and people with influence have. Even if you’re not a big star — like I’m not a big star — but it’s crazy the influence I can have in a positive light on people."

Carter said he has been working with the New York-based Young Faces Smiling organization to bring a summer program to the University of Oklahoma. He’s also trying to expand the scope of his football camp for underprivileged kids back home in Las Vegas and now expects some of his Broncos teammates to attend.

Along the way, he’s constantly amazed at the opportunities to change lives.

"It’s crazy to me because it’s so simple and all it takes is some time. If everybody just puts in a little bit of time — a little bit of time — and a conversation, it goes a long way," Carter said.

"You’ve just got to be focused and have some people around you that have that same common goal. Everybody around me is making it easier."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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