NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The massive tornado that ripped through a handful of Oklahoma City suburbs and killed at least 24 people grabbed the attention of the sports world on Monday, especially Mets pitcher Jeremy Hefner.
Hefner went to Briarwood Elementary School in Moore, just south of Oklahoma City. The school was heavily damaged by the tornado.
“For the first 10 years of my life, I lived in Moore,” the right-hander said. “I couldn’t have (lived) more than a mile, maybe even less, from where the tornado hit.”
Hefner still has family living in Moore. He said he had been in contact with his mother, who told him his cousins and uncles were OK.
“At first, I think because of the amount of cellular activity going on, there was probably two and a half hours before I fully knew that (my family) was OK and everyone’s house was OK,” he said.
Hefner said he was “freaking out” when he heard the tornado hit Moore.
“It’s just unfathomable,” Hefner said.
“It’s gut-wrenching and it’s saddening and I wish I was there,” he added. “I wish I could go home right now and help out and do whatever I could to do help those families. I wish I would have been there right when it happened that way I could help pull kids out and that type of thing. Just standing here and watching the TV, you feel helpless.”
Hefner and his Mets teammates handed out supplies to victims of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday in Far Rockaway, Queens, but the tragedy in Oklahoma weighed heavily on Hefner’s mind.
“You feel helpless, honestly. Watching TV, you see streets that you’ve been on and those types of things,” he told Diamond. “So, I just try to pray.”
His heart goes out to their neighbors, especially at the Plaza Towers Elementary School.
“It’s unfathomable. I have a 3-year-old son of my own. I mean, I can’t even imagine what the parents are going through,” he said.
He said he’s been moved by the stories of heroism.
“And those teachers, going above and beyond what they’re called to do,” he said. “It says a lot about the people of Oklahoma.”
Kevin Durant, a three-time scoring champion for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, posted on his Twitter account that he was praying for everyone involved. He added: “Everybody stay safe!”
Dodgers star Matt Kemp posted on Twitter: “I’m giving $1000 for tonight’s HR and every HR until the All-Star break for the victims of my hometown in OKC. #PrayforOklahoma.”
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, who played at Oklahoma State and grew up in the Oklahoma City area, was relieved that no one in his wife’s family was injured.
“Devastating damage to Moore, Oklahoma due to Tornadoes,” Weeden wrote on his Twitter account. “Please keep these people in your prayers. Thankfully @MelanieWeeden family is safe.”
Kansas coach basketball coach Bill Self also went to Oklahoma State.
“We wish nothing but the very best for (those affected by the storm) and our thoughts are with them,” he said.
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