Fox Sports Southwest and Rangers raise $164,261 for tornado victims
AUG 20, 2013 11:38p ET
While the Rangers and the Houston Astros battled on the field, the Rangers Foundation and Fox Sports Southwest raised $164,261 for victims of the devastating tornadoes that struck parts of Oklahoma and Texas in May.
An online auction promoted throughout the FOX Sports Southwest game broadcast raised approximately $130,000 of the funds for disaster relief in the affected communities.
"It's awesome that everybody's come together to help donate," said Lt. Shonn Neidel of the Moore, OK Fire Department. "I've had numerous people just stop me here and say, ‘Is there any way we can help?' I was like, watch the [TV] screen and they'll explain where to go."
Moore and other first responders participated in a first pitch ceremony with Rangers players Derek Holland, Craig Gentry and Adam Rosales on the receiving end.
"Not everybody can physically help, so a lot of people can help monetarily," Neidel said. "It's awesome what's being done here."
First responders also unfurled the flags of the United States, Oklahoma and Texas in center field while the colors were presented by the Granbury, TX Marine Corps Jr. ROTC Color Guard and the Oklahoma City Fire Department Honor Guard.
Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb was on hand for the ceremonies as well as the auction.
"So many Oklahomans grew up being Rangers fans, for the Rangers to take time out and dedicate an entire game to the Oklahoma relief effort, it's really special," Lamb said.
Although the tornados struck months ago, Lamb said the relief effort is far from over. He said more than a billion dollars in insurance claims is indicative of the destruction.
"What the Rangers are doing in highlighting and honoring the first responders, that highlights the effort that's ongoing. So a big thank you to the Rangers," Lamb said.
"It's a special night, and Fox Sports Southwest is a big part of this. They're highlighting a web site, people can donate and contribute and bid on items. It's a big team effort and we're appreciative."
Funds were raised in a live auction conducted throughout the game, hosted by Fox Sports Southwest personalities John Rhadigan and Emily Jones. Viewers bid online for special VIP and entertainment packages.
The highest winning bid was $12,700 for a meet-and-great with Rangers legend and club CEO Nolan Ryan. A Dallas Cowboys VIP game experience was close behind in going for $12,600.
A Fox Sports Southwest Behind the Scenes experience and a Travel With The Dallas Stars road trip went for $8,100 each. Other VIP experiences with sports teams, concerts and behind-the-scenes with FOX broadcasts also went for thousands of dollars each.
A late addition to the lineup was a behind-the-scenes experiences with Rangers Ballpark announcer and in-game entertainment maestro Chuck Morgan that went for $5,100.
Another $6,416 was raised in cash donations. Proceeds from Tuesday night's event will go to the United Way OK Strong Disaster Recovery Fund and Mission Granbury.
Limited edition "OK Strong/TX Pride" T-shirts and dog tags sold during event the raised $28,150. The T-shirts and dog tags can still be purchased at FoxSportsSouthwest.com.
Texas Rangers Wives Association held a silent auction of gift baskets filled with autographed equipment, memorabilia and food items to raise an additional $18,000.
The Rangers also offered discounted upper reserved tickets as part of the event and drew a crowd of 39,009 for the special night.
Interviews with people impacted by the tornadoes were conducted throughout the broadcast of the game on FOX Sports Southwest to illustrate the need for donations.
"Things like this really make Oklahoma and Texas really stand together, stand strong," said El Reno, OK firefighter Terrell Thompson. "It's going to take years and years to rebuild. Moore, El Reno, Shawnee, Carney, all the towns that were hit, they lost more than words can describe. It's going to take dedication, pride in their hometowns, pride in their state to rebuild."
For one night, at least, the Rangers and their fans could share in that pride.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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