KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Kansas City Chiefs long snapper Kendall Gammon is launching a social media site inspired by a Joplin tornado victim on the fifth anniversary of the deadly twister.
The website gives people a place to say thanks by recording a short video on their smartphone or computer, or what Gammon calls "selfie thank-yous." The person receiving the "game ball video" then can be notified by email, text message or a "shout out" if that information isn’t known.
Called "Will’s Wall," it is inspired by Will Norton, who was sucked away by the tornado as he headed home from his high school graduation, The Kansas City Star reports.
Years ago, Gammon had given a game ball to Norton, but he didn’t realize what the ball meant to the young man until his death. The Nortons had been Gammon’s neighbors for years, and while visiting them a few weeks after the tornado, he went into Will’s room. That’s when he saw the ball and his old jersey number, 83, painted on the wall.
"It was like a punch in the gut," said Gammon, now a field reporter for the Chiefs Radio Network. "I instantly started to weep."
Gammon decided that too often people don’t know when they’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
"In this day and age, we touch a picture, or we touch the outline of a heart (on Twitter) to show that we like something," Gammon said. "But there’s nothing more powerful than actually seeing someone tell you, ‘Thank you.’ "
Gammon’s site already has videos from retired NFL defensive lineman Jared Allen, other football veterans, Gammon and Trish Norton, Will’s mother.
The wall is a fitting tribute, said Mark Norton, whose son had gained quite a following on YouTube before his death.
"It gives you hope," Mark Norton said, "that good things can happen from bad things."