When it ended, Kentucky basketball’s Teaming Up For Texas telethon Sunday raised $1 million for the relief effort in areas of the Lone State State devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
UK Coach John Calipari said the three-hour 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. “You can do things to generate so much good will.”
Calipari saw the telethon helping bolster Texans’ will to rebuild their lives.
“They need to know there’s hope,” he said. “Something will be done. We’re trying to create hope.”
Several former UK players called in and made donations. Karl-Anthony Towns and Julius Randle each contributed $5,000.
The families of UK football coach Mark Stoops, women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell and Calipari donated $25,000 each. Calipari later said he would donate $50,000 more.
Jon Hock, the director of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Calipari, donated $100,000. Another $150,000 came from UK’s recent Alumni Charity Game.
Donations can still 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 Sunday to see firsthand the good that can come from money raised during the telethon. He said he hoped to take shirts and gear from Lexington-area sporting goods stories to distribute in Texas.
UK players manned phones during the telethon. Each wore the telethon’s signature Teaming Up For Texas T-shirt, which are on sale with proceeds going to the relief fund.
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.”
Ambassador to Canada Kelly Knight Craft, who is the wife of UK mega booster Joe Craft, said the telethon served to ease the frustration she felt in watching television coverage of flooding.
“That’s what really bothered me,” she said. “So what can we do? How can we take part in this? How can we be part of the healing. … You feel helpless.”
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.
Chris Bailey, the chief meteorologist at WKYT, said that amount of rain associated with Hurricane Harvey was the most ever to fall in the continental United States from a single storm. It could fill a lake the size of Connecticut twice, he said.
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.
CNN reported that more than 32,000 people were displaced and more than 70,000 were left without power in the path of Harvey.
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.
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.
Calipari and Kelly Knight Craft saluted Kentuckians for their generosity.
“Kentuckians, as always, rally together and want to be part of the healing process,” she said. “Not just in the short term, but long term. This is not the last time Texans will hear from Kentuckians.”
Kelly Knight Craft termed the telethon “a big success. … Nothing is impossible when you’re from Kentucky.”