BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Graduation not only ends a chapter in someone’s life, but it also opens the door for new opportunities, something Wisken Whited wouldn’t have without faith in his parents to overcome unbelievable challenges.
Those are the three key words to remember when going through Wisken’s story: challenges, faith and opportunities.
Some people are met with challenges, others seek them out. Canisius High School senior Wisken Whited experienced both.
“When I got to the U.S. I played soccer for 8, 7 years and I’ve always wanted to play football since I started watching it in the U.S. I thought it was so cool and I wanted to be out there one day,” Wisken told News 4 Sports.
He could have stuck with a sport he was familiar with and he did for a while. After he was adopted from Haiti Wisken played soccer for a while and even at the start of his time at Canisius. But finally his sophomore year he convinced his parents to let him play JV football.
“I say this to everyone, we don’t win the 2019 state football championship without Wisken Whited,” Canisius assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, Bryce Hopkins said.
That was a thrilling game as Canisius won the Catholic State title against Cardinal Hayes when the Crusaders scored the game-winning touchdown as time expired, 25-24. But Wisken played an underrated role in that game, one that doesn’t go unnoticed by his team.
“Wisken made all his extra points and made the only field goal attempt we attempted that year but one that ended up being a difference maker,” Hopkins said.
In addition to his role on special teams kicking field goals, extra points, kick-offs and punts, he also played wide receiver, cornerback and safety. Growing up playing soccer as a little kid in Haiti he never imagined he would be in this position.
Never would have thought it, never. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I have to be able to play football coming from Haiti it’s just…there’s no way I would have been able to do it without the support of my parents, the support of coaches, I would have never been here without them,” Wisken said.
Wisken’s parents not only helped him get to where he is today in a support sense, but in a literal sense after adopting him in 2007. But it took years to actually get him to the United States.
“We trusted God that if it was supposed to happen it would and eventually it did, took an earthquake but it finally happened,” Susan Whited, Wisken’s mom said.
Being a pastor at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Tonawanda, Chuck Whited and his wife Susan have gone on many mission trips together but one of the trips Chuck was on while Susan was at home with their other children led to meeting Wisken.
“The first time we took a team down the first thing we did was finish building the orphanage and making it so that it could house boys and girls and Wisken was one of the first boys that we picked up,” Chuck explained.
Chuck and Susan have four biological children and after this trip, they decided to add not one but two more kids to their family.
“He said oh there’s this little boy that is just so adorable we’ve got to adopt him and so I’m like ok and we decided we might as well adopt two children at the same time,” Susan said.
That’s because their other children were so much older than Wisken and the process was so difficult to adopt from Haiti, if they ever thought about doing it again, it would be easier to do it at the same time.
So they adopted Wisken along with a little girl named Lovelie. But restrictions and obstacles with the Haitian government made it tough to get them to the United States. Then when the catastrophic earthquake hit in 2010, they were finally able to get the kids home.
“My daughter and I organized a prayer vigil all through the night and through the next day for 24 hours until we got word that they were able to get their visas,” Susan said.
“I wasn’t going to leave the kids in such turmoil,” Chuck explained.
Chuck was there when the earthquake hit and was determined to leave Haiti with both of his new children. It finally happened days after the earthquake hit and even though it was a tough situation, Wisken only being seven didn’t realize the magnitude of what was happening around him, one of the joys of being a kid.
“I was smiling, laughing in the airport, seeing snow as pretty cool,” Wisken laughed.
“Wisken and Lovelie would open the back door and giggle, giggle, giggle, laugh and then they’d get really cold and shut it, last for about five minutes then they’d run back open it again and giggle, giggle, giggle. It was pretty funny,” Chuck said.
In addition to playing football and excelling in the classroom, Wisken took advantage of any and all other opportunities he came across including in the music world. He plays many instruments including the saxophone during concerts at a nearby park in the summers before Covid happened.
But he never forgot the community he was once a part of. In January of 2020 he went back to Haiti on a mission trip with his family. That was the first time he’s been back since coming to the United States.
We did a service project, we did sewing, we helped rebuild the wall I was taking part in that so that was really fun,” Wisken said.
He got to reunite with old friends and make his former home a better place.
“I didn’t really tear up or anything like that but internally I was overwhelmed almost but it was just great to see everybody,” Wisken said.
Now Wisken has his sights set on college as he’ll go to Liberty in the fall and try to make the football team as a walk on.
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.