, Muskogee, OK

June 4, 2013

Student athletes serve tornado victims

— By Wendy Burton

Times Editor

Fort Gibson High School athletes met at the school early Monday to load a bus full of bottled water and more.

Those same athletes and coaches, about 30 people all together, went to Moore to deliver the goods and do their part helping clean up at Southmoore High School.

Bennett Willis, 18, and Avery Rigney, 17, were among the students hefting bottled water to the bus.  Both football players said they looked forward to the day-trip ahead.

Rigney said after delivering the water and other supplies, the students planned to help clean up the remaining debris off the school’s football field before heading home.

“It’s a great opportunity to serve,” Rigney said.

Bennett said he and the other athletes were glad to help someone.

Football Head Coach James Singleton said the idea came about after the May 20 tornado that killed 24 people and decimated the landscape in Moore.

Singleton said he saw a newspaper story that said the high school had at least 19 football players who became homeless from the storm, and that news affected him deeply.

“So, we thought it would be a good gesture to do something to help,” Singleton said. “We pulled all our athletes in the last day of school and asked them to bring donations.”

The Thursday after the May 20 tornado, Fort Gibson High School held its annual spring game, and while there collected many of the donations.

“We felt like if something like this happened to us, they would do the same,” Singleton said. “And they can’t have spring practice until their field is cleaned up, so that’s something we thought we could help with.”

The athletes took water, gloves, shovels, toilet paper, diapers, among other items, to Moore, the coach said.

Other school groups also raised funds and items for tornado victims, according to a school media release.

The Fort Gibson Student Council collected money to donate to the American Red Cross.

Each school in the district collected money from students as well, and the student council collected that money.

Additionally, the Fort Gibson FFA students gathered bottled water for several days that week.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton