USA Stars of Oklahoma Thank Texans For Arriving In Wake Of Tragic Tornados

By Ernest Pund | June 05, 2013, 2:28 p.m. (ET)

USA Judo Stars in Moore, Oklahoma

USA Stars of Oklahoma Thank Texans For Arriving In Wake Of Tragic Tornados

It seemed as though anything that wasn’t destroyed by the tornados that struck Oklahoma was narrowly missed, and that no one was not affected.

In this letter to Texas Judo Inc. President Jeff LeForce, Pat Burris of USA Stars in Moore, Oklahoma, thanks fellow judoka in Texas for braving the obvious to attend a scheduled training event but, more importantly, for their support in the wake of a chilling disaster.

Letter to Jeff LeForce, President of Texas Judo Inc.

Dear Jeff,

We just wanted to say thank you for helping us get the word out to Texas Judoka that our training session was still on for today.  We had a great turn out - it's a bit wordy, but we wanted to everyone know how thankful we are...

Last night, to our shock and horror, more tornados hit our area.  Multiple tornados seemingly simultaneously hitting a wide span of area.  Some of my athletes were in their homes with their parents, tucked into tornado shelters, if they were lucky enough to have them, or huddled together in their safe spot in their homes. Those who were not at home were in their family vehicle, while their parents frantically tried to out maneuver the storms for hours on end.  Still shocked from the horrific tornado that wasted much of our community and took many of their homes and even a few of their loved ones lives, the parents and athletes of USA Stars are experiencing something not unlike post traumatic distress disorder. My team is on edge. Their nerves are frayed. 

So this morning, after another vicious round of tornados, I wondered if it was prudent to even attempt to hold practice.  The entire area was flooded and the water was sending the giant piles of what was left of entire neighborhoods - debris, cars, trash and rubbish of all kinds, floating into the streets.  Could our athletes even get to practice?  Was the dojo flooded?  My wife and I headed over to the gym to survey the damage.  En route, our athletes and parents started calling - not to ask if practice was still on, but rather to see how they could help clean up.  I should not have been surprised, but I must say I was thankful for their willingness to help. 

Fortunately, traveling was possible.  Some roads were closed, but we finally made it to the dojo unscathed.  The dojo itself was in acceptable condition - after some serious mopping, the floors were dry.  We had no power, but things were looking better.  Then, as my athletes started filing in, exhausted from last night, but willing to put in the effort of training, we were amazed to see not just  a few, but groups of athletes from Texas come through our doors.  We never got a solid headcount, but we're guessing we had 80 athletes on our mats.  Some 80 athletes who braved the terrible travel conditions, entered the heart of the tornado impact zone and came to USA Stars to train with us.  We decided that if any athletes were generous enough to show up today that we would not charge the entry fee we had advertised.  To our amazement and gratitude, many Texans insisted on making a donation.  In truth, those coaches, athletes and parents could not
have helped us more than they did by simply showing up.

We were grateful to be able to train with our Texan friends and even enjoy a pitch in lunch together.  Your kindness and willingness to train with us in our time of duress was priceless. Thank you Texas!

Patrick Burris
USA Stars Foundation
301 S. Broadway Ave.