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Razorbacks in the Community

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorbacks in the Community

RAZORBACKS IN THE COMMUNITY: Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti Every day, University of Arkansas student-athletes, coaches and support staff leave their legacy on the fields, tracks and courts around the country. It’s not often that we have the opportunity to have an even bigger, longer-lasting impact on the world but that was the case this summer with Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti. The Razorback coaches, staff and student-athletes, through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, 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 June 25-26, 2010. Fans are all familiar with the Razorbacks’ exploits in the arena but it’s not often we get a glimpse of the efforts out of the spotlight. SAAC brings student-athletes from all of the Razorback teams together with administration in an effort to build an even stronger experience at the University. One of SAAC’s goals is to reach out through community service and the organization has been very active in programs such as Book Hogs and Sweat Hogs. But SAAC wanted to do more. SAAC and the Razorback teams wanted to reach out on a global scale spreading Razorback good will beyond the borders of the Natural State. When the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit near Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince Jan. 12, 2010, the Razorback student-athletes wanted to spring into action. But relief efforts were complicated and getting food, supplies and money directly to the Haitian people was a daunting task. SAAC members explored many avenues of assistance before realizing that maybe this wasn’t an event we could impact. Time went on and eventually the people of Haiti fell off the front page of the newspapers and they were no longer the lead story on the news. But SAAC members never forgot the impact of the images from that fateful day. They continued to work locally with community service projects while looking for a way to take part in a world-wide effort. Enter Numana, Inc., and former Razorback golfer Rich Morris. Morris has a long history with Numana, a non-profit hunger relief organization who has worked in many nations and who had a long-standing history with Haiti, even before the earthquake hit. Morris approached Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long about involving the Razorback Nation with a food packaging event designed to provide meals to the still-struggling Haitians. Long took the proposal to SAAC and all were in agreement that this was a great way to help. Through the efforts of many on campus and in the community, the Randal Tyson Track Center was converted to a packaging and distribution location. Seventy-five work stations were set up with volunteers being asked to work at least a two-hour shift measuring ingredients, filling the meal pouches, weighing, sealing and boxing them for shipment. Six semi trucks full of the packaged meals left Fayetteville that weekend heading to the port in Florida where they were sent via cargo ship. The meals were escorted by the United States military and were delivered within 10-14 days of being packaged in Northwest Arkansas. The 24-hour packing marathon kicked off 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 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,” 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, teamed up making the event a success. “We are all incredibly impressed and ecstatic about the tremendous support from the Razorbacks, the University of Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas for this event,” 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.”



Sports Category : Football