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Pierre Desir

Professional football player Pierre Desir stands with student-athletes at his alma mater, Francis Howell Central High School. Desir, who plays for the Indianapolis Colts, donated $185,000 for a new fitness center at the high school. Photo courtesy Francis Howell schools.

COTTLEVILLE • Indianapolis Colts' cornerback Pierre Desir donated $185,000 to his alma mater, Francis Howell Central High School, to fund a new fitness center.

"I learned so much throughout my years in high school,” Desir said in a statement. "I wanted to show my appreciation for what they have done for me throughout my career and when I was in school."

At age 4, Desir immigrated with his family to St. Louis from Haiti during a political coup in 1994. The family moved to St. Charles County when Pierre was 11. At Francis Howell Central, he was captain and won most valuable player and offensive player of the year awards for the football team. He also played basketball and ran track.

He went on to play football for Washburn University in Kansas, transferred to Lindenwood and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. His NFL career has included stints with the Browns, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts. In March he signed a three-year, $22.5 million contract extension with the Colts.

With Desir's donation, the high school will build a fitness center and weight room for athletes and physical education classes. The school's old equipment will be taken to Saeger and Hollenbeck middle schools.

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Blythe Bernhard is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.