John Calipari is planning a telethon for his Kentucky basketball team to raise money for Western Kentucky tornado victims.
“We play basketball,” Calipari said after Kentucky’s 66-62 loss at Notre Dame Saturday. “This is someone losing their mother and working in the warehouse, working for Amazon, and all of the sudden this happens. Now, it’s like all hands on deck.”
Four tornadoes devastated parts of Kentucky overnight Friday into Saturday morning. At a news conference Saturday morning, Gov. Andy Beshear said more than 100 people may have been killed in the storms.
Some of the most extensive damage was in Mayfield where “at least dozens” were killed in a roof collapse at a candle factory. The site could end up being the most deadly tornado event in the state’s history.
The tornado that hit Mayfield first touched down in Arkansas and traveled more than 200 miles.
Before the game, Calipari and his players visited the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Notre Dame’s campus to light candles for the victims of a devastating series of tornadoes that officials fear killed more than 100 people in Kentucky overnight Friday into Saturday morning.
“We are devastated this morning seeing the images of what has happened in Western Kentucky and across our state,” Calipari tweeted. “We cannot imagine what you are going through. We stopped by the Grotto on the way to shootaround to pray for everyone affected by last night. You are in our hearts.”
Notre Dame held a moment of silence to honor the victims of the storms before the national anthem.
“I woke up and it was kind of shocking to see that, to see the destruction that went through the area, how that can really just decimate families and everything they’d built for themselves and their children,” junior forward Keion Brooks said after the game. “I wish we could do more to help because that’s devastating what happened to them. But the best thing we can do for them is prayer and being there for them, let them know that they’re not alone.
“…Hopefully we can all come together and do something good to rebuild that community.”
The Kentucky basketball program has raised funds for natural disaster relief several times in Calipari’s tenure. In 2017, the team raised money for Hurricane Harvey victims. In 2012, the program raised funds for victims of Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast and tornadoes in West Liberty, Kentucky. In 2010, Calipari’s team raised money for victims of a massive earthquake in Haiti.