FOREST PARK, Ohio — Winton Woods junior linebacker Andrew “Bam” Booker has a greater life perspective after visiting Haiti on a mission trip July 12-19.
Booker, one of the state’s top football players in the 2021 class, was the youngest in a group of 23 people from Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church to make the trip to Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
The group helped with construction projects related to a school and church along with repairs to a couple of water wells. There was also a Vacation Bible School for ages 7-9 for three days. Booker also assisted with helping to feed 500 children and he visited a couple of orphanages.
“Seeing how other people live versus how we live – it’s kind of grounded me,” Booker told WCPO on Thursday. “I am trying to just think about the more important things in life versus all the extra stuff. I am just trying to humble myself a little bit more.”
Booker helped to install cement and put flooring down for the new school. He also helped with the water pump. He said if the residents weren’t able to have the water in their neighborhood, they would've had to walk three miles.
“It’s different than America,” Booker said. “It humbles you. We take water for granted every single day. People leave the faucet on after they wash their hands and not even care.”
Booker, 16, and two other teens delivered a faith-filled message through a translator to 120 youngsters who understood Creole. Booker discussed individuals in the Bible such as Philip, Esther and Moses for three days.
“I was super proud of watching God work in him and also work through him,” said his father, Anthony Booker Sr.
Anthony Booker said his son was initially hesitant to make the trip, wondering what type of impact he could make besides the physical work that was needed. But Andrew soon realized his interactions with the youngsters struck a chord.
“I think more than anything the message he wanted to relay to the Haitians – it was well received,” Anthony Booker said. “It was a very, very good experience.”
Winton Woods coach Andre Parker encouraged his standout earlier this summer to take the mission trip.
“When him and dad told me about it, I thought it was just awesome,” Parker said. “It was probably something that I would like to do at some point in my life. To get to go over to another country and help people and build things and stuff like that – I think that is a beautiful thing.”
Parker said he expects a lot from Booker on the football field and has no doubt he will help the Warriors (12-2) this season after a Division II state semifinalist finish in 2018. The trip to Haiti reinforced what Parker thought of Booker and his family.
“I think it shows the special character that he has,” Parker said. “He is a very unassuming young man. He cares about his teammates and cares about the community; he is always well spoken.”
Booker, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall and 220 pounds, has 14 scholarship offers, including the likes of the University of Cincinnati, Kentucky, Rutgers, Purdue, Minnesota, Maryland, Kansas, Akron, Pittsburgh, Toledo and Ohio University.
He also has excelled in the classroom and plans to be an Eagle Scout soon. With his first mission trip completed, he is looking to take another trip in the future.
“Moving forward it took things to a different level for him,” Anthony Booker said. “There is a difference between change and transformation. I didn’t watch him change, I watched him transform. For me that was a blessing.”