Harvey, the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in more than a decade, and the subsequent rain and floods had devastating effects to the south Texas corridor. One week after the Category 4 hurricane made landfall on Texas’ gulf coast, the U.S. Olympic community has sprung into action in various relief efforts.
At the organizational level, US Equestrian Federation has raised $150,000 for horses affected by the storm, while USA Gymnastics is supporting the Gymnastics Association of Texas relief fund, and individual athletes including Simone Biles have gotten involved as well.
USEF is providing financial assistance through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund, established in 2005 during the aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Katrina. The national governing body is working with the Houston SPCA to support its rescue and rehabilitation efforts through the fund, with all money to be used to benefit horses and horse owners.
“The outreach and generosity of the equestrian community to support the ongoing emergency assistance in this and future disasters allows us to provide direct financial assistance to the groups involved in the ongoing rescue efforts,” US Equestrian Federation CEO Bill Moroney said.
Meanwhile, USA Gymnastics is supporting the GAT fund established to help gym owners hit hard by the hurricane with their efforts to rebuild, refurbish and recover. USA Gymnastics noted many clubs are at or near a total loss. It added the fund would provide assistance not only for clubs in south and southeast Texas, but also in Louisiana and other areas impacted by Harvey.
“USA Gymnastics is proud to support GAT’s relief initiative and having one central point for channeling the gymnastics community’s effort to help its beleaguered brethren is an ideal approach. We appreciate the thoughtfulness and generosity of those who can contribute to the relief fund, whether it is large or small,” said USA Gymnastics COO Ron Galimore.
Individual Team USA athletes have been plenty busy as well helping with Harvey relief efforts. Biles, who won four Olympic gold medals in Rio last summer and lives in Spring, Texas, volunteered at a flood distribution center.
Stuart Holden, a 2008 U.S. Olympian in men’s soccer, took to social media to get the ball rolling on a disaster relief soccer exhibition he would like held at BBVA Compass Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. He even floated the idea of the top two donors being able to play. Fellow soccer legends Jozy Altidore, Brian McBride, Mia Hamm and Carli Lloyd were quick to volunteer to participate.
Mike Miazga has written about Olympic sports for nearly 25 years and is the former editor in chief of Volleyball Magazine. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.