Razorback Football Team Works To Help Tornado-Impacted Joplin

by Chris Bahn  on Thursday, Jun. 2, 2011 8:10 am  

Arkansas football players traveled to assist tornado-impacted Joplin, a Missouri town 90 miles north of Fayetteville. Running back Dennis Johnson shared this photo on Twitter, Wednesday evening. (Photo by Dennis Johnson)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Arkansas players had seen pictures of the devastation left by the tornado that hit Joplin, a town in Missouri that sits about 90 miles north of campus. Some watched news reports detailing the aftermath of the storm, which claimed 134 lives.

But those reports were no preparation for Wednesday when Arkansas football players saw first-hand how the community had been impacted. Reaction to seeing the storm damage unfolded in real time on Twitter as players posted photos and thoughts from a tour of the town.

“If you've ever stood on the beach and seen water as far as you can see, that's what Joplin looks like [with] debris. Devastation is unreal,” special teams ace Seth Armbrust posted.

Running back Dennis Johnson (who snapped the photo that accompanies this post) said: “Pray for the [people] of Joplin... It's all bad here...”

Both players were part of a group of between 60 to 70 Razorback football players that traveled to assist in Joplin. They worked on the outskirts of the most heavily affected area, but the group later traveled through town to witness the destruction.

Arkansas players were able to help at McCauley Catholic High School, which is being used as a staging area for donated items. They helped move water, food and clothes and pack items into boxes for distribution.

It took approximately 90 minutes for the fleet of buses carrying the Razorbacks to get from Fayetteville north into Joplin. Most players that didn’t have class or work obligations made the trip.

After a tornado hit the Arkansas town of Denning last week, there was discussion of taking the group there. Relief officials told the UA that a group of their size wouldn’t be ideal to help in that setting, so attention turned north to Joplin, which was hit days earlier.

Quarterback Tyler Wilson said he was glad the team was able to help anywhere. With so many lives impacted by the storms, it was nice to give back for a few hours.

“It’s been a busy day. We’ve gotten to come up here and do a little bit to make a difference in a great tragedy that’s happened,” Wilson said. “It will take some time, but if we and others can do little things – moving clothes in and out of warehouses, clearing space for cots and beds — it will help these people.”

Director of football operations Mark Robinson presented the idea to the team last week. Linebacker Jerry Franklin said players felt compelled to help, though the town is out of state.

“We were all on the same team with this. We wanted to help,” Franklin said. “It was small, but it was something.”



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