Helping tornado survivors rebuild and stay active

On Wednesday, April 27th tornados tore through Alabama. I didn’t hear about the devastation until the following morning and by that time I had other things on my mind as I woke up to a very sick teenage son. It wasn’t until he was lying in the hospital bed waiting to find out when they would be removing his appendix that I finally saw footage of the devastation.

My son, in his University of Alabama polo and I sat there in total shock. We watched over and over again as the funnel was shown from every imaginable angle. We watched as houses were torn from their foundations. We watched and wondered what exactly all of the debris flying on the edge of the funnel was. We watched as people stood on the streets looking at what had once been there homes.

The images we saw that day will remain with me for the rest of my life. So, when the dailymile Team began talking about the summer fundraising project we wanted to undertake, it was easy to think back on that devastation and suggest we donate to a cause in Tuscaloosa.

Since we had already decided that we wanted to donate to Special Olympics throughout the year as a way to show the athletes how much the fitness community is behind their efforts, we decided to combine that cause with the need in Alabama.

I contacted Dr. Bob Bushong, the Director of Special Olympics in Alabama and asked him how we could help. He knew immediately where the money was needed.

“Only days after that tornado, the Tuscaloosa Softball Team competed in a regional tournament that would secure their spot in the National Championship,” Bushong said, “Watching these athletes it was clear they were suffering from the loss and devastation they had witnessed, but they came and played and earned that spot.”

Bushong went on to say that two of the players actually lost their homes in the tornado and are currently living with friends until they can find a permanent residence.

In the meantime, the team is on a mission. Last year, they attended the same tournament and after blowing away the competition in every game leading up to the National Tournament, they were shocked with their performance at Nationals.

“For a year, this team has been itching to get back there and redeem themselves,” Bushong said, “But with so many people in need right now in Tuscaloosa, fundraising for their travel has not been easy.”

Bushong said almost the exact same thing that Thomas Estok, the coach of the Maryland Road Sharks said to me when I called him to tell him we wanted to buy a bike for one of his athletes.

Bushong told me it was amazing how a need arises and suddenly out of nowhere a call comes in from someone who wants to help. For a second time this year, dailymile has the opportunity to give back to a community that embodies everything we stand for and we get to do it just at the right time.

Please take a minute to enter one of the three Virtual Challenges we have set up for the July 4th Celebrations and donate to the Special Olympics of Alabama and these deserving athletes.

Help us by donating via our fundraising page on Firstgiving, and then check out these fun challenges!

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