I have no delusions. I'm no celebrity (although the clerk at Panera did recognize me this morning, so I've got that going for me) and I have little pull with people. But in my little corner of the world, and yours, I have something that can be used right now: I have a forum. It's not the Today Show, it's not even the local news, but through good fortune, we have built up a miniature following on a couple of websites (this story is being posted on both PowerMizzou.com and InsideSTL.com). And so, today, for the first time in eight years, I'm using those forums to ask a favor of those who follow.
I'll get the request up here in the second paragraph, and then I'll tell you why it is so important to me. PLEASE, IN ANY FASHION YOU CAN, HELP OUT SOMEHOW, SOME WAY, THE PEOPLE OF JOPLIN, MISSOURI.
We've all been touched by tragedy in our lives at some point before I am sure. Personally, I've not been hit by it as I have been over the last few days. I do not know anyone personally who died as a result of the tornado in Joplin. To my knowledge, I do not know anyone who was even injured. But I know one person, a fraternity brother of mine at Mizzou, who lost his house. He had a baby just a couple of months ago. That baby now has nowhere to live. I know two other fraternity brothers whose family members lost their homes. Not damaged, not seriously damaged. Just gone.
My dad moved to Joplin when he was 12. His mom, and my grandmother, still lives in that house 49 years later. Thankfully, it is still standing. The storm door is shattered, the trees are all gone, but she has a home to go back to. In that regard, she is incredibly fortunate. So am I in that I still have a grandma. Two blocks from her, houses are gone. She lives walking distance away from Joplin High and businesses that simply don't exist anymore.
I'm going to register with the Red Cross in the next couple of days and drive down to Joplin over the weekend. If I can hand out bottles of water, I will. If I can help move debris, I will. Whatever it takes, I want to find a way to do SOMETHING.
The cherry trees my kids picked to help their great grandma make pies are gone. The high school my dad graduated from is a wreck. The town where I ate Mexican food with my grandpa and went to the park with my grandma and walked the streets of his childhood with my dad, well, it's not the same town. It won't be as long as my grandma is alive. It might not be as long as I am alive. It might not be ever.
And because of that, I have to do something. The forum I have is populated by fans of the University of Missouri. Somehow, each and every one of you has ties to this school, and therefore, to this state. You grew up here, you went to school here, you live here now. Whatever it is, the Show-Me State is a part of each and every person reading this plea. And because of that, I ask you, what can you do? How can you help?
There are plenty of ways. I simply will provide some links to point you in the right direction:
You can help from your couch. Text "REDCROSS" to 90999. Or text "Joplin" to 864833. If you mention that text on True Son Exteriors' Facebook page, the company will match the first 50 ten dollar donations.
You can find sites in your city accepting donations, both financial and material.
You can give blood.
You can help in a Mizzou sports related way too. On Wednesday, on the East side of the Hearnes Center, there will be bins to donate blankets, stuffed animals, children's items. Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith will deliver those items to Joplin personally on Thursday.
Every person reading this can do SOMETHING. We can't bring back the dead. We can't rebuild houses or recover pictures or heal the wounds. But we can do SOMETHING. As residents of this state, past or present, we MUST do SOMETHING.
Perhaps you think this is not the appropriate place for this article, for such a plea. If you feel that way, you are welcome to. Personally, I can think of no more important story I've ever written.
Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston told Anderson Cooper of CNN "This is not the type of community that is going to let an F4 tornado kick our ass!"
Well, make no mistake, Joplin's ass got kicked. But to paraphrase a saying I always liked, "Everyone gets knocked down. A champion keeps getting back up."
You can help Joplin get back up. So can I. I was born in this state. I've lived here for 29 of my 34 years. I have a lot of good memories of Joplin, Missouri. I will do what I can. I beg you to do the same.