LEXINGTON, Ky. – Big Blue Nation proved Sunday that its passion goes far beyond just the athletic fields.
Answering a call to action from John and Ellen Calipari, Joe and Kelly Craft, and the Kentucky men’s basketball team, viewers and participants of Sunday’s “Teaming Up For Texas” telethon helped generate $1 million (with matching funds) to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to aid in the relief efforts in Texas and to benefit the victims of the catastrophic storm.
“I’m just so proud of the people of Kentucky,” Calipari said. “I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and Ellen grew up in Osceola, Missouri. These are people that we just feel so comfortable around, and I know there were $25 donations, there were $50, there were $100, and you know they really were like, ‘I don’t have this $25, but I’m going to do it.’ There were people that gave $10,000 to have dinner (with us). Great. They could afford it. But it was more about how many (donated).
“And the other thing is, when you’re doing this kind of event, you have to have matching dollars. You cannot do numbers that really make a difference unless people help. Joe and Kelly Craft, they called right away, ‘Hey, how can we help?’ I said we’re going to need matching funds. How about Mark (Stoops) and Matthew Mitchell and their families giving $25,000 each? How about our golf coaches (Brian Craig and Golda Borst) throwing in money? It was everybody doing their part to make this happen.”
The phones rang off the hook during the 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. telethon, which aired on WKYT and its affiliates across the state. The telethon was also streamed live at WKYT.com, UKathletics.com, CoachCal.com, and on the official @UKCoachCalipari and @KentuckyMBB Facebook pages.
Kentucky men’s basketball players and staff, along with members of the American Red Cross and WKYT, took phone calls throughout the afternoon. Several UK Athletics coaches also called in to make donations. Special guests on the telethon included:
Eric Bledsoe, former UK men’s basketball player and member of the Phoenix Suns
Marcus Camby, former Calipari player at UMass and current Houston resident
Ashley Dusek, senior UK volleyball player and East Bernard, Texas, native
Del Harris, former NBA Coach of the Year
Andrew Harrison, former UK men’s basketball player, Houston native and member of the Memphis Grizzlies
Jon Hock, director of the Calipari ESPN 30 for 30 “One and Not Done”
De’Aaron Fox, former UK men’s basketball player, Houston native and member of the Sacramento Kings
Dakari Johnson, former UK men’s basketball player and member of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Matthew and Jenna Mitchell, UK women’s basketball head coach and his wife
Nerlens Noel, former UK men’s basketball player and member of the Dallas Mavericks
Julius Randle, former UK men’s basketball player and member of the Los Angeles Lakers
Kelvin Sampson, Houston men’s basketball head coach
Chantel Stoops, wife of UK football head coach Mark Stoops
Karl-Anthony Towns, former UK men’s basketball player and member of the Minnesota Timberwolves
John Wall, former UK men’s basketball player and member of the Washington Wizards
Although the telethon is over, people can continue to donate to the relief efforts online at redcross.org/teamingupfortexas. People can also call the Red Cross at 859.253.1331 or 800.RED.CROSS, or text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.
On Sept. 10, Calipari plans to visit shelters in Texas that donations from Sunday’s telethon will directly impact.
UK has held two previous telethons under Calipari to assist with natural disasters. In 2010, Kentucky and Calipari used a telethon to raise more than $1 million for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. UK followed that up with another telethon in 2012 that generated $1 million for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Calipari also helped raise funds for West Liberty, Kentucky, after tornadoes ravaged the town in 2012.
UK Athletics Photos by Quinn Foster