EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- As cleanup continues after tornadoes ripped through middle Tennessee, Tri-Staters are stepping up to lend a hand. We reported Thursday the city of Evansville joined forces with the Ohio Valley Conference to raise money during this year’s basketball tournament.
Some of the schools in the conference were impacted by tornadoes. As thousands have come to the Ford Center this week to watch the game, they’ve seen this banner and box right next to the merchandise table.
Now the games being played on the court do involve some Nashville teams. Some of their fans say this show of support was nice to see.
Fans came to see the action on the court. But the banner in the lobby of the Ford Center caught some attention also. It’s a plea for the spectators to help the thousands of people cleaning up after tornadoes caused extreme amounts of damage to cities in middle Tennessee.
“When we saw that the tornado hit Nashville and had hit a couple of the Ohio Valley Conference schools, it was obvious to us that the business community needed to rally around that,” Jim Sandgren says.
Different organizations in Evansville teamed up with the O.V.C to do exactly that. Bringing in money for those rebuilding and the fans affected by the disaster say using basketball as the platform was the right move.
“Whether you’re a fan of this team or that team, but for the OVC to bridge that gap, it doesn’t matter what university you’re cheering for, we’re all people and when a tragedy hits, we’re going to come together. I think that’s beautiful,” William Sims explains.
And one of the schools who took the court, a Nashville team, Belmont University. Some of their fans say their school didn’t receive much damage but the city is still hurting.
“The city just seemed quieter, more slow-moving I guess. It was just really sad. And just hearing the number of people who died throughout the day go up. It was just really sad,” Mikayla Smith says.
She says the help they’ve received means a lot. But individuals walking through the door aren’t the only ones lending a hand. $10,500 have been donated by local businesses like Old National Bank and Vectren.
As for the students in the cheering section, they say they know middle Tennessee will recover.
Donations can be brought to the Ford Center. You can also donate here.