Originally written on Bonfire Impact  |  Last updated 5/24/13
The tornado may have brought destruction, but basketball player Kevin Durant brought the thunder in giving $1 million towards relief efforts in Oklahoma. On Monday, May 20th, Oklahoma was devastated by a tornado that  ripped across the ground for 17 miles in 40 minutes; and was later revealed as a top-of-the-scale EF5 twister with winds reaching 200mph. At least 24 people are dead, including nine children, and still many loved ones are missing within the twister’s path of destruction. The financial need will be monumental after 2,400 homes were destroyed and an elementary school became nothing but debris and rubble. Many homes’ roofs were caved in, garages were gone, cars were twisted about, and walls were complete rubble.  You could barely make out what was what. “It doesn’t seem real.  It looks like a bomb hit it,” said Durant. Insurance claims will probably reach $1 billion, said  Oklahoma Insurance Commission’s rep Kelly Collins. But the city and state are ready to move forward in high hope, especially with the support coming in. Governor Mary Fallin told the press, “We will get through this.  We will overcome.  We will rebuild and we will regain our strength.” And luckily, Oklahoma is not alone in this trying time. “I call Oklahoma City my home.  I go through [the city of] Moore all the time.  It’s unfortunate.  We’re going to come together as a city like we always do and we’re going to bounce back,” Durant told The Associated Press. On Wednesday, Durant traveled to Oklahoma with his brother Tony and close friend Randy Williams to add to his donation.  His financial contribution was beyond gratifying, but his invested time to the community was breath-taking.  “Awesome, just awesome,” one person commented about Durant being there, signing autographs and conversing with every person out there, never turning a single person down. Durant had a message for Oklahoma’s survivors that was too intimate to just be made on TV, Twitter, or Facebook.  He had a message he wanted to make face-to-face to survivors. “We’re not just here to play basketball [meaning his team and himself].  We really are embedded in the community, invested in the community.  That’s the best part about it.  It’s going to change here soon.  We just got to stick together as a community.” Durant made it known that he and his teammates are not just here to entertain, but to embrace a community in times of ups and downs. Durant made $16.6 million last year and will go on to make $17.8 million next year.  Such numbers only live in most people’s dreams, but for athletes it is attainable, and his generosity is just like his ball game– rare and extraordinary. Even with two pro teams in the New Orleans area, no $1 million donation was made after Hurricane Katrina except by NFL quarterback Drew Brees, according to founder and president of the Give Back Fund Marc Pollick, who works with celebrities and athletes in identifying philanthropic endeavors. Durant did not parade his generosity, instead the American Red Cross did and they believe it will create an incentive and model to follow after. And it has… The NBA & the NBA Players’ Association has pledged $1 million, Oklahoma City’s Thunder $1 million, Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford, who is from Oklahoma City, is leading an aid effort in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay has pledged to match all donations up to $25,000. Even outside sports, people are helping. Philanthropist Joyce Meyers’ Hand of Hope campaign has drove two trucks filled with 70,000 pounds of water and supplies into Oklahoma this morning; as well as many other local and national groups helping financially, physically, or doing both as Durant did. And YOU can help in the support by donating $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-733-2767. Oklahoma is filled with heroes who saved lives this week, and now they need YOUR help.  Open your hearts, and then your wallets for something beyond yourself. For more coverage on this story, click on the links below. CNN News OK New York Daily News   Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
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