A rain-soaked Tuesday afternoon didn’t discourage hundreds of Chiefs fans and area residents from filling up Arrowhead Stadium’s Lot C to lend a hand in tornado relief efforts. Arrowhead was open throughout the day for bottled-water and monetary donations benefiting tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri and Reading, Kansas.
The community response was overwhelming.
Former players and Chiefs Cheerleaders teamed with Kansas City Chiefs Red Coaters, staffers and media partners to collect more than 70,000 bottles of water within the first five hours of donations. Just 45 minutes into the drive, enough pallets of bottled water had been donated to fill an entire semi-truck.
“It’s been great to see that people are coming from all over, from all kinds of different situations and saying, ‘hey, I’m going to take the time out and do something for the victims of these tornados,’” former Chiefs DE Duane Clemons (2000-02) said.
Load after load of donations arrived at Arrowhead despite the less than desirable weather conditions. Relief knew no boundaries and came from residents of diverse backgrounds throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
Just minutes after a group of seniors arrived with supplies and donations, younger members of the community began to show.
“Instead of spending money on a senior prank, we pooled our money together for these donations,” said Kathryn Ruddy, a 2011 graduate of Truman High School in Independence, Missouri.
Ruddy, who was joined by a handful of classmates, walked across the graduation stage Sunday evening – the same night that a deadly tornado struck the Joplin area.
While Ruddy found a way to donate through the help of classmates, Dwight Beatty, an O & M Manager at Dogwood Energy in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, made a delivery on behalf of his co-workers.
“We came into work today and saw the ad for today’s water drop-off, so our plant manager, Pete LePage, decided that we should help these efforts,” explained Beatty. “We contacted a local store, picked up the order and drove it down here.”
Beatty was joined by a co-worker who used his day off to help with delivery. In all, Dogwood Energy’s water donation filled four pallets worth of storage space. Each pallet holds 50-60 cases of water.
Individuals, corporations and civic leaders all pitched in throughout the stormy day. Uniformed police officers from Kansas City, Missouri, Independence, Missouri and Overland Park, Kansas also arrived with cars packed full of supplies.
“None of this surprises me,” Clemons said. “I’m from California and I’ve lived on the east coast, but people in the Midwest have the biggest hearts. They are so giving and they’ll just reach out and do whatever they can to help. This is just a community with such a huge heart.”
One fan that recently lost his job drove out and dropped off a trunk-full of bottled water. He said he’s going through a tough time, but knows people have been affected by tragedy and are in need of his support.
There was a suiteholder who donated an entire truckload of bottled water when they heard about the drive. That contribution is in addition to what was counted at the stadium.
Fry-Wagner Moving and Storage has donated all transportation for water and supplies.
Day Two of collections continues Wednesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m in Lot C. In addition to accepting bottled water and monetary donations, the Chiefs will also be collecting work gloves, heavy-duty construction trash bags, batteries (all sizes) and flashlights.
Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, General Manager Scott Pioli and President Mark Donovan will all be on hand at 3 p.m., while radio partners 101 The Fox KCFX and Sports Radio 810 WHB are scheduled to hold live broadcasts during the day.