LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari and his Kentucky basketball team hit the airwaves and phone lines Sunday afternoon for a telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and they wasted no time piling up donations.
Calipari’s family pledged $25,000, as did the families of Wildcats football coach Mark Stoops and women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell. Former UK star and No. 1 NBA draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns called in and pledged $5,000 to his college coach.
By the halfway mark of the three-hour telethon, WKYT in Lexington — the CBS affiliate broadcasting the telethon — announced a total of $400,000 already raised. That’s especially meaningful to UK freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt. His hometown of Houston was hammered by the hurricane and submerged by unprecedented flooding.
“A lot of the areas were flooded where I grew up, a lot of my childhood places where I used to hang out,” Vanderbilt said on the telethon. “But like I told my parents, all the material stuff can be replaced. I’m just glad all my family was safe and everybody got out.”
Calipari, whose previous teams hosted two other disaster-relief telethons that raised more than $1 million each, has long preached servant leadership to his players. University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, who has been on a fundraising tour of his own since the storm, called in Sunday to say he and Calipari plan to petition the NCAA to approve an extra exhibition game between the Wildcats and Cougars in Houston — with proceeds going to Harvey relief.
“As a teammate, when your teammates are down, you want to pick them up and support them,” Vanderbilt said. “In this case, one of our states is down right now. Any donation can help try to rebuild so the city can bounce back.”
You can donate online at redcross.org/teamingupfortexas and by calling 855-257-2700 or 859-299-5455. This story will be updated with a final tally on telethon donations. Calipari said donations of $100-plus get a photograph signed by him — and the first donation of $10,000 or more gets a dinner with Calipari.
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