When the number of people in our community affected by the tornado outbreaks on Sunday and Monday of this week seems endless, it’s difficult to know where to start helping. Organizations on the ground such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Regional Food Bank and countless others have been answering that question with incredible swiftness and effectiveness, joining with first responders to meet so many of the immediate needs of those who have been affected.
For the Thunder, we have been sending players, coaches and staff into the community whenever an opportunity has arisen for us to help. We’ve stopped at hospitals and shelters, churches and donation sites, and we’ve even spent time in the middle of some of the worst-hit areas.
We’ve also been working to respond to the needs of our Thunder family. After checking on our staff, who collectively were very fortunate following this week’s destructive storms, we began to reach out to business and community partners, as well as Season Ticket Members, to find out if anyone needed our support.
Stories of those who could use a little help have gradually been coming to light. One of the first such stories we heard about was that of Randy and Heather Sanders, who lost their home in Monday’s tornado. They have a 2-year-old daughter who made it safely through the storm with them, and on Wednesday, they welcomed their second daughter into the world at INTEGRIS.
This morning, the Sanders’ account manager, Sydni, along with a few other staff members, stopped by the hospital with a little – er, rather, a big and furry – surprise. Rumble and the Thunder Girls came to see the Sanders and their daughters, as well as to drop off a care package to give some joy and some assistance as they welcome Tatum into the world and begin the process of rebuilding.
While we were there, we were fortunate enough to visit with a few people who had been injured in the tornadoes – including Jackie, another Season Ticket Member. With every stop, Rumble and the Thunder Girls put a smile on everyone’s faces. An INTEGRIS staffer said multiple times that our visit marked only the first or second time some of these folks had smiled since they were admitted. It’s incredibly humbling to know that many of the people we visited are in need of so much, and yet one of the most powerful things we could give them was a smile.
Our organization continues to be committed to providing ongoing assistance with the relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts that will take place in the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, for any of our fans who wish to help those affected by this week’s storms, we encourage you to donate to the local chapter of the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army.
- Karina Henderson