KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams will use Friday night’s preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium to benefit the tornado recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo.
The city of about 50,000 people, located a couple hours south of Kansas City, was devastated by a tornado on May 22 that killed more than 150 people and caused an estimated $2 billion in damages.
Joplin is only now finishing debris removal and turning its attention to rebuilding infrastructure.
The Chiefs and Rams plan to recognize rescue crews and volunteers Friday, along with collecting donations from fans. About 500 volunteers and residents of Joplin will attend the game, and the coaching staffs will wear special shirts and hats to raise awareness of the recovery effort.
“From the first hours and days following the tornado, we have been inspired by the resiliency of the people of Joplin,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “We’re hopeful that the Governor’s Cup game will give much-deserved recognition to the volunteers who have helped in the progress so far.”
Donovan was joined by Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in announcing plans to honor the people of Joplin during the preseason game.
Both teams visited the city in the aftermath of the storm, donating everything from food and water to their time in picking up debris from damaged homes and businesses. Even some players pitched into the effort, despite the NFL lockout largely kept them apart from their teams this summer.
Donovan said he was at an NFL meeting the day after the tornado hit Joplin when he bumped into Demoff, and the two began to brainstorm ways in which they could help the recovery. Nixon’s office came aboard soon after and the plan to turn their preseason game into a fundraising was brought to life.
“It’s always been an exciting game for us, but this game is about Joplin,” Demoff said. “We want to make sure that people don’t forget and that this is an on-going effort.”
The Chiefs also announced plans to host a high school game between Raymore-Peculiar and Joplin on Oct. 21. All net proceeds from the game, which will be televised live statewide, will benefit the Joplin school district’s rebuilding effort.
“It’s great to have these two hometown organizations that truly care about the people of Missouri,” said Nixon, flanked by team officials. “This year’s Governor’s Cup will be dedicated to both assisting the people of Joplin in their continued recovery and rebuilding efforts, and to recognizing the thousands of volunteers and first-responders who have helped in Joplin.”