So back on Memorial Day weekend my area was hit by a tornado. Parkersburg is the town that received the brunt of the damage. 8 people were killed, dozens injured and hundreds of houses were reduced to debris. Aplington-Parkersburg High School also happens to have the distinction of sending 4 football players to the NFL: Jared Devries, Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester and Casey Wiegmann. Most of them have been able to make a trek back here to check out the town and help in the clean-up efforts, but now the Jacksonville Jaguars (Meester’s team) has decided to start selling A-P Falcons hats at this weekend’s mini-camp and also on the Jaguars website to help raise money for tornado relief.
Peter King wrote a nice article about other folks helping with the relief effort. I could practically paste the whole article here, but here are some excerpts:
When Kampman walked a couple of blocks over to his high school football coach’s house, his heart sank. Thomas and his wife were outside … outside of nothing but rubble.
“I see Aaron coming,” Thomas said, “and I just started crying. I lost it. And he gives me a big hug and says, ‘Coach, everything will be OK.'”
The high school coach is Ed Thomas (right), who was named NFL High School Coach of the Year in 2005 due largely to the fact that his coaching record is 281-83. Under Thomas A-P has been to the playoffs 15 times, won 2 state titles, and had 4 second-place finishes. Aplington-Parkersburg also has the largest number of NFL players per capita of any town or city in the country. Thomas was quoted as saying (to Peter King):
“The outreach from people in the community and around the state is unbelievable,” he said. “Coach [Kirk] Ferentz called and said he was going to bring up some players from his team to help. I’m standing on the football field at the high school right now, and there’s a team from Dowling High School in West Des Moines here, on their hands and knees for the last two hours, combing the field and picking up debris. After something like this, to get a field back in shape, you’ve got to start by removing all the shards of glass and the hundreds of nails and pieces of shingles and wood.”
“From Des Moines?” I said. “How far away is that?”
“About two hours,” Thomas said. “They got on buses today and just came here. Their football coach, Tom Wilson, used to coach in the area, and he’s a wonderful man.”
Thomas put Wilson on the phone and he explained, “On Wednesday I decided we had to do something to help, and I put a signup sheet out asking for volunteers to come up after our exams on Friday. Next thing I knew, I had 95 people signed up, including almost all of our football team. We got the state soccer tournament going on, and the baseball tournament tonight, and kids are getting ready for graduation, but everyone really wanted to come. That’s what you have here in the state of Iowa. We help our neighbors. And I know if it was reversed, coach Thomas would be there for me. So we got on two buses today and came here. It’s the least we can do.”
The current A-P players in the NFL:
Jared DeVries, Iowa, DE, Detroit.
Aaron Kampman, Iowa, DE, Green Bay.
Brad Meester, UNI, C, Jacksonville.
Casey Wiegmann, Iowa, C, Denver.