JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Images of the destruction, the shattered lives, the sheer hopelessness wrought by Hurricane Katrina have filled the airwaves, the newspapers and cyberspace over the past several days.
Athletes aren’t immune to the devastation. Many have lost their homes or have family members who did. Many others are stepping in to help.
The following are some recent stories about athletes that have captured my attention.
— Former NFL and Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel and his family are safe after fleeing New Orleans, but their home is quite possibly destroyed.
In addition to his home, Wuerffel has likely lost Desire Street Ministries, where he has worked since retiring from football. He has spent the past few days trying to track down staff members and students from the inner-city ministry, many of whom are now scattered across the country.
But despite his circumstances, Wuerffel’s faith remains strong. He expects to rebuild Desire Street Ministries and continue his work with troubled youth.
“I do believe that God is in control,” Wuerffel said in an article on www.gatorcountry.com. “I believe that God is good and there are lots of things in the world we live in that aren’t the way they should be. There are natural disasters. There’s the worst part of humanity that has come out in the city in the aftermath yet I believe in all that somehow God is doing some things that inevitably will be good.”
— The family home of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre also is likely unsalvageable. But his family members are all safe.
“I’ve found myself over the last 24 hours a couple times saying, ‘Why me?’ Or, ‘Why of all places …’” Favre said in an Associated Press story. “As quickly as that thought pops in my head — and it probably pops in my head more than I’d like it to — I try to remind myself of the things to be thankful for, which there are a lot.”
— Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and his family are hosting a family of nine from New Orleans. The Schillings registered on a website and were matched with the family of Efrem Fields. The first time they spoke on the phone, Fields didn’t know who he was talking to.
But later, when he found out the last name, it dawned on him.
“I said, ‘Wait a second, I know this guy,’” Fields said in a Boston Globe story. “Schilling … Schilling, there’s only one Schilling I know, and he’s a baseball player! It blew my mind.”
Schilling’s wife Shonda said when her family saw how many people had nowhere to go, they didn’t want to stop simply with making a donation.
“We decided we wanted to bring an entire family here and put them up,” she said. “We all need to take care of each other at a time like this.”
— Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair sponsored a collection drive and was hoping to fill six tractor-trailers with food and supplies. Turns out, almost 25 trailers were necessary.
“I’m amazed,” McNair said in an AP story. “You have to be amazed … in a short period of time to put something like this together. My hat goes off to the people who came here who went through their closets and supplies and donated some things to send to people who don’t have anything.”
— Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, helped raise an airplane full of supplies that went to Baton Rouge. The Mannings are natives of New Orleans.
“It’s hard to watch what’s happened to the city, people with no place to go, up to their waists in water,” Eli said in a CNN story. “We just wanted to do something extra, so we set up this plan to help some of these people.”
Professional athletes often have reputations as being self-centered and greedy. Sometimes those reputations are deserved.
But in cases like these, it’s nice to hear about those who are just the opposite, and who take extraordinary steps to help those in need.
Tim Ellsworth writes a weekly column for BPSports, on the Web at www.bpsports.net.