In the wake of Sunday's tornadoes and storms that killed 23 people in Lee County, Alabama, rescue crews, relief organizations, and even both the Alabama and Auburn football programs raced to help those affected. Six different tornadoes, including one that was a mile-wide with winds reaching 170 miles per hour, ripped through southeast Alabama and sent dozens of people to local hospitals. Thousands of others still do not have power.
Families continue to sort out the damage and assess their next move, but there are many people with no clue where to start. The American Red Cross set up several channels to help, but there's still more work to be done. The Alliance of American Football's Memphis Express arranged a ticket sale where all proceeds will be donated to local disaster relief efforts, and it is being championed by one player who calls southeast Alabama home.
Memphis tight end Brandon Barnes attended Central-Phenix City High School in Alabama, a community that fell right in the path of the strongest tornado to touch down. With the help of the Express, the team's game on March 24 against the Birmingham Iron will include family section tickets available for $8 and all proceeds will be sent to areas affected just like Barnes' hometown.
You can purchase tickets for the game and help support Alabama's tornado relief efforts here.
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"I'm in the position to help out and I'm glad the Memphis Express is helping out, too," Barnes said. "I would do anything to help out my home town."
Barnes played four years at Alabama State University in Montgomery. He only needed to catch 29 passes for 436 yards and six touchdowns in 38 career games with the Hornets to earn an NFL opportunity, and he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions. Over the last two seasons, he's been with Detroit and the New York Jets, but an injury last year kept him from gaining much momentum and making the active roster.
That's no problem for Barnes, who's made his way into professional football after growing up in southeastern Alabama. In the full interview below, Barnes even said that a high school teacher once told him to reconsider trying to play college football for something more realistic.
Barnes is Memphis' starting tight end and has six catches for 39 yards this season.
In times of need, the strongest among us shine brightest. The people of Alabama are a tribe unlike most others you'll find. They'll come together to rebuild what so many tornado victims lost, and there is no shortage of help on the way.
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