The Moore American

August 7, 2013

Area coach enlist MLB star for tornado relief

The Moore American

MOORE — Coach Patrick McKay remembers the horror he experienced May 20 when a tornado ripped through his city. Even though he was fine, his wife and son were in the path of the twister at Briarwood Elementary School. Although his family was buried under the rubble of the demolished school, they survived.

But once McKay’s family was safe, the Westmoore High School coach knew he had to do something. The tornado had destroyed hundreds of homes, two schools and countless amounts of property damage. He couldn’t sit around and just be thankful.

“A couple of days after the tornado we walked over there by the school and there was a bat bag there,” McKay said. “It had a girl’s softball bat, helmet, glove and a couple of softballs in there. I was thinking, her mom and dad are trying to find a place to live and this little girl is ready to play softball, but doesn’t have the equipment. It hit home that we need to get these kids back to some type of normalacy. Sometimes they don’t have the money to do that. I wanted to help out any way I could.”

That was when the idea of the Getting Moore Back In the Game began to take shape. The culmination came together Friday with a silent auction at Fort Thunder Harley Davidson in Moore.

Autographed items that were auctioned off came from iconic sports figures and all stars in MLB and the NFL.

“Everybody ask for donations, and that’s great,” McKay said. “But I wanted to try and give somebody something for the donation. People are going to donate money and they will give more money than the items are worth. Being involved in athletics for almost 20 years, it’s the first thing I thought of. Let’s get autographed items.”

However, the tough part would be getting items people would want to bid. So McKay jumped on the phones.

“I called one of our booster club’s dads that is friends with Kevin Tipps, who’s really good friends with Bryce Harper’s dad,” McKay said. “I said I wanted to do some things to help out. Do you think Bryce will be able to sign some things for me?”

Harper, who plays for the Washington Nationals, did more than just sign a few balls. The second year phenom made it his own personal mission to scour the major leagues for memorabilia.

“All the credit goes to Bryce Harper for most of the stuff,” McKay said. “Every time he would go to a city to play, he’d go to the other dugout and tell them they are raising money for victims of the tornado. And Major League Baseball stepped up. It’s outstanding. That’s the side the average person doesn’t really understand what those professional athletes can do to help out.”

Harper was able to get signed items from hall of famers Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken and Don Mattingly, along with current stars such as Baltimore’s Chris Davis, Colorado’s Todd Helton, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman and many more current big leagues.

“I was shocked,” McKay said. “That’s a testament to Bryce Harper. Everybody looks at him and say he’s a rich professional athlete. I’ve had an opportunity to meet him a couple of times. He’s a great kid, is what he is. And he has the heart to give back to people that need some help. I will always be indebted to him for this.”

Other donations came from Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel, former University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer and former Sooners Landry Jones, Kenny Stills and the St. Louis Rams.

Even though he knew it was unlikely, McKay said he wanted to raise $30,000.

McKay said he will distribute the money through the schools and let them decide who needs the funds the most. Whether they play soccer out at Southlakes, little league football or a varsity spot for the high schools, he wants the money to help everyone.

“I just want to help kids to get back to some type of normalcy,” McKay said. “It’s for any kid that goes to school in Moore Public Schools. I don’t care what school they go to. We are Moore. That’s what we are all about.”