The threat of tornados to Oklahoma residents is something they live with every day this time of year. It was something UFC welterweight James Head was aware of when he moved from his native Illinois to Oklahoma five years ago.
On May 20, a category F5 tornado (the highest category of tornado) hit Moore, Okla., a community south of Oklahoma City and only 20-25 miles away from Head’s home. It claimed 24 lives, injured nearly 400 others and damaged or destroyed 12,000 homes.
Inspired by the outpouring of aid from every day citizens, Head has decided to offer what he can. He’ll donate his fight purse from his next fight, yet to be announced, to the relief efforts.
“After all the devastation there was just instant support from everybody,” Head told UFC.com. “The community really rallied together and they are just a really resilient group of people. With such a devastating thing happening they’re pulling together, and they rebuilt once and they are going to rebuild again. There’s just a moxie about them and it really inspired me to see people doing what they can and giving what they can.
“I remember going to the grocery store to go grocery shopping and someone was there just to buy stuff for the victims, like bottles of water and toilet paper. The shelves were already cleared out the day after the storm, so people just flooded the Sam’s and flooded to Walmart and are really helping where they can. That was an inspirational thing to me.”
Head has urged people via Twitter to donate to the Red Cross. MMA apparel company Cage Fighter has joined in the support efforts by selling a Pray4OK t-shirt where 100-percent of the proceeds benefit tornado victims. The shirts can be purchased for $24.99.
“If you drive through Moore right now it looks like a warzone,” said Head. “It’s unbelievable the devastation on the people’s houses that were just wiped off the map in a matter of minutes. This isn’t going to be fixed in a week when the media and the cameras go away; it’s going to be a long month after month of it. We are just going to have to pull together and continue to help out in any way we can for the months to come. And every little bit helps.”
For information on relief efforts, visit www.redcross.org or www.salvationarmyusa.org