Say this much for John Calipari, he knows how to mobilize people for a good cause. The Kentucky coach and his team joined with WKYT-TV in Lexington to stage a telethon for victims of Superstorm Sandy that recently ravaged the east coast, raising $500,000 in just two hours.
Kentucky freshman guard Archie Goodwin fielded calls during the team's telethon for Superstorm Sandy victims (Photo courtesy of UK)
Calipari and the Kentucky players took donations over the phone during a two-hour televised special that benefited the American Red Cross. The efforts were bolstered when John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's, pledged $1 from every pizza sold on Nov. 7 to the relief efforts.
“We had an amazing night of support for the important work of the American Red Cross,” Bluegrass Region of the American Red Cross CEO Terry Burkhart said in a release. “We are so thankful to Coach Calipari, WKYT, and all the donors for stepping up to help those affected by this terrible disaster.
“When you consider the money raised on the phones, on-line, through the auction, and with Papa John’s contributions we hope to surpass $1 million,” said Burkhart.
Calipari staged a similar telethon several years ago, raising $1 million for victims of an earthquake that hit Haiti.
“Our state is one of the poorer states,” Calipari said. “Louisville didn’t even run the telethon (on TV). We raised half a million dollars? So the word got out through the social media and all the other stuff, and people basically gave over $200,000, then we matched it, then you do the auction, then you do the – all the sudden you start looking around and saying, ‘My goodness. You raised a million dollars.’
“I just can’t thank the people in this state (enough for) how they give money, how they give of their time. I say a suffering man steps out and does something for somebody else, that means something. That means something to me. There were older ladies – I picked up a few phones – that were giving $25, and you know they could barely afford the $25 that they were giving. You know it. You could hear it. Yet they gave it anyway.”
Calipari said it also gives the players a chance to do something that's greater than playing basketball, learning life lessons and what it means to use their talent for something more.
“The images that you see, and now the snow, I told everybody: We’re not rebuilding Queens or Staten Island; we’re keeping people alive,” Calipari said. “You’re feeding them, you’re housing them, you’re giving them shelter, you’re giving them clothes, you’re giving them water, you’re giving them medicine. That’s what you’re doing, and that’s all that we were trying to do. So, it’s pretty good, though. Our players had fun with it. They weren’t sure going in. What the heck is this? But I think by the time they left they enjoyed it.”