Kentucky basketball telethon raises $1 million for Harvey relief

Kentucky basketball’s Teaming Up For Texas telethon Sunday raised $1 million for the relief effort from areas of the Lone State State devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

UK Coach John Calipari said the telethon showed how leading Kentucky’s basketball program can serve in ways off the court as well as on.

“You cheat the position if all you’re going to do is watch film and coach your team,” Calipari said during the three-hour telethon.

Several former UK players called in and made donations. Karl-Anthony Towns donated $5,000. So did Julius Randle.

The families of UK football coach Mark Stoops, women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell and Calipari donated $25,000 each.

Jon Hock, the director of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Calipari, donated $100,000.

Donations can be made by calling 855-257-2700 or 859-299-5455, and online at Redcross.org/teamingupfortexas.

Calipari said he would travel to the Houston area next weekend to see firsthand the good that can come from money raised during the telethon.

UK players manned phones during the telethon. Each wore the telethon’s signature Teaming Up For Texas T-shirt, which are on sale.

Sales of T-shirts had exceeded $10,000 before the telethon began, Calipari said. The shirts were selling for $15 at Kentucky Branded stores and online at Kentuckybranded.com.

The scenes of flooded streets and homes moved him to organize the telethon.

“The emotion when you see the images, these are real people,” Calipari said. “This could be us.”

Calipari began the telethon with a challenge.

“It’s time for the Big Blue Nation to step up,” he said. “No donation is too small.”

Calipari has regularly said that a high-profile job like Kentucky basketball coach provides an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.

The Hurricane Harvey telethon marked the fourth time in Calipari’s eight seasons as Kentucky coach that he tried to galvanize the Big Blue Nation after a natural disaster.

He held a telethon, named “Hoops for Haiti” in January of 2010 to help the Caribbean nation recover from an earthquake. The telethon raised more than $1 million, UK said. Among those who donated were Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim ($5,000), former UK coach Tubby Smith ($1,000) and ESPN commentator Dick Vitale ($1,000).

A separate raffle of a dinner at Calipari’s home with actress Ashley Judd attending had a winning bid of $98,000.

Calipari staged another telethon in November of 2012 to help relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the New Jersey and New York coast lines. It also raised about $1 million, UK said.

After a tornado struck West Liberty, Ky., in August 2012, Calipari also donated $25,000 and called attention to relief efforts.

Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane. It dumped more than 50 inches of rain (about 27 trillion gallons of water) on southeast Texas. It left about 450 square miles of land under water, according to the television program CBS Sunday Morning.

In the history of the United States, Harvey is considered the second-largest natural disaster (behind Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in August 2005).

Chris Bailey, the chief meteorologist at WKYT, said that amount of rain associated with Hurricane Harvey could fill a lake the size of Connecticut twice.

CNN reported that more than 32,000 people were displaced and more than 70,000 were left without power in the path of Harvey.

Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas, then spun back over the Gulf of Mexico, regained strength and made a second landfall.

Bailey said such a hurricane event happens once in a thousand years.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that 150,000 properties in Texas were affected. That included about 6,800 homes destroyed and 84,000 damaged.

Governor Greg Abbott said that Texas might need as much as $125 billion in aid money for its recovery effort.

Kentucky basketball’s “Teaming Up for Texas” telethon was one of many volunteer efforts launched.

J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Houston Texans, donated $100,000 to a relief effort. In its first 24 hours, his Houston Flood Relief Fund raised more than $625,000, CNN reported.

The Texans pledged $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston. The NFL Foundation matched that donation.

The University of Houston men’s basketball program established a relief effort. On Thursday, Coach Kelvin Sampson issued a statement voicing appreciation for the more than 1,000 commitments the program received via Twitter.

“At a time when so many people are struggling, it is comforting to see the love and feel the support that mankind so often displays in times of crisis,” Sampson said in the statement.

Houston basketball encouraged people wishing to make future donations to contribute to the Red Cross at redcross.org.donate/donation and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation (ghcf.org).

Conference USA, which has four member schools based in Texas (North Texas, Rice, UTEP and UTSA), asked for donations through YouCaring, a free crowd-funding platform which seeks to raise funds for medical and charitable causes.

As of Friday, Conference USA had raised $2,137 through the online drive, spokesman Tim McNamara said.

Conference USA said that donations could be made at YouCaring.com/CUSAcares.

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