George Fant hopped in his automotive and headed to work early final Saturday morning, unaware of the heartbreak unfolding in his hometown.
When the New York Jets left deal with arrived on the workforce’s facility, quarterback Mike White requested him a query that stopped him in his tracks.
“Hey, is your family OK?”
Fant was born and raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and nonetheless calls town residence. He owns a home there and his mother and father reside there, as do many relations and pals. He performed basketball and soccer at Western Kentucky — the place White was a teammate — the identical place he met his spouse Chastity Gooch, additionally a basketball participant.
So when he came upon in regards to the lethal tornadoes that ripped by way of the realm starting final Friday night time and noticed the agonizing pictures and movies of the aftermath, Fant instantly grew anxious.
“Oh, man, it was really nerve wracking,” Fant mentioned in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “As soon as I saw the pictures, my stomach dropped. I didn’t know what to do.”
He started feverishly calling and texting his household and pals, hoping to listen to they had been OK.
“I had a few family members who had the tornado come through and destroy their homes,” Fant mentioned. “But everybody ended up actually being safe on my side of the family, so that was the best thing.”
Fant knew, nonetheless, many others weren’t so lucky.
At least 90 have been confirmed useless throughout a number of states after greater than 40 tornadoes pummeled a large space. Officials mentioned 76 died in Kentucky alone, together with seven from one household in Bowling Green.
Photos Show Devastated Communities in Aftermath of Deadly Tornadoes
“There’s parts and areas where I grew up playing and hanging out at a friend’s house where their houses are gone,” Fant mentioned. “There’s nothing there, simply the muse. There’s a city the place I grew up going to eat and going to totally different locations, they’re not there anymore. Those locations are fully gone and it is simply the muse.
“So, man, it’s rough to see.”
Fant, who’s listed as uncertain to play Sunday at Miami with a knee harm, has in any other case been a brilliant spot through the Jets’ 3-10 season. After starting the yr at proper deal with, he has seamlessly crammed in for injured left deal with Mekhi Becton whereas garnering some Pro Bowl buzz.
“He’s just been so consistent and he’s gotten better every week,” coach Robert Saleh mentioned. “He’s every bit of deserving of any accolade he does get and really excited to work with him moving forward.”
While Fant has been centered on soccer and getting his knee wholesome this week, he has felt an awesome urge to assist his hometown from afar — a minimum of till the soccer season ends in just a few weeks and he can head again to Bowling Green.
He and his spouse started brainstorming, deciding to make use of the Fant Foundation they based collectively as a place to begin. They obtained in contact with the Red Cross, the varsity county and the mayor’s workplace to see what they may do.
Drone video reveals the devastation the morning after lethal tornadoes tore by way of Western Kentucky.
“We’re just trying to kind of help heal the area,” Fant mentioned. “I’m simply making an attempt to make use of my platform and use who I’m to higher town and assist town. There’s areas of town that’ll by no means be the identical.”
The Fant Foundation is gathering donations by way of its varied social media platforms, with 100% of the proceeds going to households within the Bowling Green space to assist pay for funeral bills for individuals who misplaced relations within the storms; down funds for housing; reward playing cards; clothes; provides; and toiletries.
“I just want to kind of play my role and do what I can do,” Fant mentioned. “That city helped raise me. There are people there that took care of me as a kid and they didn’t have to. So this is an opportunity for myself and my family and my foundation to show how much they mean to us and what we can do to help.”
The Fant Foundation held a charity occasion with Saks Fifth Avenue final week in New York to boost funds for Fant’s youth soccer camps, monetary literacy packages and different charitable endeavors. After the tornadoes rolled by way of Kentucky shortly after, Fant determined to take the cash raised at that occasion and put it towards the aid efforts.
Several of Fant’s Jets teammates have donated and Fant mentioned his basis had raised $20,000 in simply over two days since searching for assist by way of posts on Twitter and Instagram.
“It definitely puts everything in perspective,” Fant mentioned. “Whenever folks lose lives and actually when it is youngsters who’re injured or lose their lives to one thing that is a pure catastrophe like that, it is actually simply a type of impolite awakenings that something can occur at any time to anyone.
“You never want to see anything like this happen, but all we can do is just comfort the families, help the families out as much as we can and just become closer as a community and help each other out. You’ve just got to live every day as much as you can because you never know what can happen and when.”