FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas coaches, staff and student-athletes teamed with members of the Northwest Arkansas community and Numana, Inc., packaging a record of more than 1.4 million meals for Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti at the Randal Tyson Track Center Friday and Saturday.
The event was organized to help package meals to help feed the starving population of Haiti still suffering after an earthquake last January. The previous record for a Numana food packaging event was 1.2 million meals accomplished in Kansas City in January. Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti passed the one million mark for meals at 1:25 p.m. on Saturday and eclipsed the record at 4:08 p.m., breaking the mark with nearly three hours remaining in the 24-hour event. The final meal count for the event was 1,420,638 meals.
"I want to thank everyone in the Razorback Nation for helping us set a record by packaging more than 1.4 million meals for Haiti," Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. "I was confident the people of Northwest Arkansas would respond to the need and they certainly did in a big way. I want to thank former Razorbacks Rich Morris and Jimmy Dykes who were instrumental in organizing this event. I am also proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff for making a difference with their participation. We saw a continuing need for the people of Haiti and this event gave all of us a hands-on opportunity to make a life-changing impact on millions of people."
Among the volunteers were more than 75 University of Arkansas student-athletes along with coaches from several Razorback teams including John Pelphrey, Tom Collen, Shauna Estes-Taylor, Brad McMakin, Robert Pulliza, Michael Hegarty, Robert Cox and René Cook, team up to add dry ingredients for meals, seal the packages and pack boxes for a direct shipment to Haiti.
Six semi trucks full of the packaged meals left Fayetteville on Friday and Saturday heading to the port in Florida where they will be sent via cargo ship. The meals are escorted by the United States military and are scheduled for delivery within 10-14 days of being packaged in Northwest Arkansas.
"We are all incredibly impressed and ecstatic about the tremendous support from the Razorbacks, the University of Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas for this event," Numana President and CEO Rick McNary said. "Not only did the event help set a record for in an event, it helped push Numana over the 20 million mark for meals packaged for Haiti since the earthquake. We know people are competitive and as they compete we are helping more starving people in Haiti. I want to thank Rich Morris, Jimmy Dykes, Jeff Long and Razorback Athletics for their help in making Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti a great success."
The 24-hour packing marathon kicked off Friday at 7 p.m. with a welcome from ESPN personality Jimmy Dykes. Dykes introduced Long who, along with Numana, Inc., representative Rick McNary, rallied the crowd of volunteers for the start. Mayor Lioneld Jordan read a proclamation decreeing June 25-26 as "Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti" days in Fayetteville. A resounding Hog Call announced to everyone within ear-shot that the event was officially underway. Less than 24-hours later more than 1.4 million meals were on their way to Haiti.
While the primary focus was to provide food for Haiti, Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti also helped feed people in Northwest Arkansas. Volunteers attending the event donated more than 2,000 canned goods that will be distributed in the area by the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank