The reach and impact of the Big Blue Nation are far and wide but when some of your most dire hard fans are affected by tragedy and need them the most the Kentucky basketball team is ready to help thank and support them in their time of need.
Torrential rains last week led to flash flooding and left a wake of destruction and so far the death of 37 people with hundreds still missing in Eastern Kentucky. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is doing his part but the University of Kentucky basketball players want to do theirs as well.
Tonight, the team will host an open basketball practice starting at 6:30 pm. where fans can come to see the team. Doors to Rupp Arena open at 5 pm, and all they ask is that you keep those in Eastern Kentucky in your thoughts as well by bringing donations for the Red Cross.
There will also be free parking at the High Street Lot across from Rupp Arena.
Meanwhile, Lexington television station WLEX will be hosting the Kentucky Flood Relief Telethon from 5 pm-8 pm. There is also a website taking the donations as part of the telethon that is already up and running.
If you can’t attend you can go to this link to help donate to the American Red Cross/UK/WLEX.
Coach John Calipari is no stranger to stepping up when he sees someone in need, but in this instance, it was his players taking the lead and initiative to do some good that he spoke about.
"“It always seems that the people that can least afford it are getting hit by this stuff. Which is why we all gotta step up and say, what can I do, even if it’s little? It’s amazing how generous this state is. They always seem to come through.”"
One of those first to step forward was Kentucky native CJ Fredrick who approached teammates and Calipari about how they could make a difference in some way.
"“I was in the car and I saw these horrible pictures and the first thing that came into my head was, what can we do to help? Because the brand of Kentucky, it’s a huge brand, and we can make an immediate impact. I thought it would be a great way to get the fans involved, bringing them out to Rupp and watching us practice and raising money. It would be a great thing for everybody just to get together right now.”"
Normally Kentucky would not be practicing at the moment but the team is getting in some practice before leaving for the Bahamas next week to play four games. This provided the stage to allow fans to get an early glimpse of what the Kentucky basketball team looks like in person.
Wildcat football players stepped up in December when tornado’s hit Bowling Green and Western Kentucky and participated in a similar telethon as well raising over $3 million.
Sahvir Wheeler spoke on the Leach Report Tuesday morning and said these are the fans that really support the team and this is their way to give back to them as well.
Calipari is always teaching, guiding, and trying to instill live skills in his players, and moments like this he said to prove he and his coach’s efforts pay off.
"“When you coach, you try to give the player something and then you get to see it on the court and you see them succeed and it puts a smile on your face. Nothing feels better except, off the court, when you’re trying to give them stuff they can live with the rest of their lives – kind heart, servant leadership, be about each other, be about others, use your blessings to pass those along. When they came to me, this is servant leadership in action. This shows me that we’re getting through.”"