A derecho powerful enough to flatten cornfields ravaged the Iowa landscape last month, leaving communities devastated in its wake. When four trees came crashing down on quadriplegic Ray Drake’s property in Des Moines, the Roosevelt High School football team dropped what they were doing to clean up the mess.
Paralyzed since 1989, Ray Drake is cared for by his two older sisters. After the derecho left his yard in utter chaos, they knew they were going to need help.
But when Drake’s sister, Janice, reached out to some of his high school friends asking for a chainsaw, the response was far greater than she could’ve imagined.
One friend, Doug Applegate, told KCCI8, “I saw some of the pictures and thought, ‘You need more than just one chainsaw, Janice!’”
So, he reached out to the Roosevelt football team to help. In no time, 30 teens had pulled together to help Drake in his time of need.
Soon, the sound of buzzing chainsaws filled the air as the athletes made quick work of the ruined yard. Wearing gloves, sawing at trunks, and rolling away huge sections of trees, the high schoolers cleaned up the mess in a mere two hours.
“I didn’t know how we were gonna do it,” Janice said, tearing up as she thanked the teenagers for their hard work. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Jackson Neary, a senior at Roosevelt High, was humble about the experience. “That’s just what people in Iowa do,” he told KCCI8. “We’re all friendly and help each other out.”
The community expressed great pride in the football team, thanking them in public comments for the kind gesture.
“It’s been nice to see all the sports teams pitching in,” one woman wrote. “I’ll bet their hearts feel good for all they are doing.”
“Such a kind thing to do,” said another comment. “I’m IOWA proud!!!”
Drake is Iowa proud, too. He thanked the teens as they left his home, rooting, “Go Rough Riders!” and stressing, “I’m blessed. I’m blessed.”
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