John Calipari lands in West Liberty for morale boost, fund-raiser

Special to the Herald-LeaderAugust 17, 2012 

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Tornado-ravaged West Liberty received another morale boost Friday when University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari flew to town for a fund-raiser and a promise that Kentucky won't forget the city.

Kentucky Sports Radio played host to the event in the same bank parking lot where emergency medical agencies set up a makeshift triage unit March 2, the night a tornado destroyed the downtown and some of the surrounding area.

Friday's event, which attracted about 400 people, featured a call from head Wildcat football coach Joker Phillips, who told the town he couldn't be with them because of practice. He went on to wish the Morgan County High School Cougar football team the best before its first scrimmage on the downtown football field, still crowded with workers installing new lights and bleachers.

Calipari took a helicopter tour of the rebuilding efforts before escorting the football team to a stage with the 2012 NCAA National Championship basketball trophy.

For two hours Calipari shifted between talking to a statewide radio audience about the town's recovery and signing autographs. He promised to match up to $25,000 for money pledged to, the benefactor of Friday's event.

Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones said that took less than 45 minutes to accomplish, for a total of $50,000.

Donation calls were still rolling in when the event ended at noon.

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