Athletic organizations sponsor Nixon's plan for Joplin

The One Mizzou T-shirt has raised $250,000 to support Joplin.
So far, 1,000 Missourians have volunteered to support Gov. Jay Nixon's Joplin Habitat Challenge. The volunteers are slated to rebuild 35 shelters in Joplin. Maneater File Photo

About two and a half hours before the men’s basketball team thrilled students with a dramatic win against KU at the Mizzou Arena on Feb. 4, Gov. Jay Nixon announced the 2012 Governor’s Joplin Habitat Challenge to a crowd of 16,000.

It is a partnership between the Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and Missouri’s major athletic organizations, including the MU Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals and Kansas Speedway.

The challenge intends to rebuild 35 shelters in Joplin to ensure substantial assistance to the city’s recovery, according to a news release.

Each sports team will be rebuilding five houses in a certain geographic area during the challenge.

One thousand Missourians have volunteered to support the challenge since its announcement, according to the release.

Nixon said he was pleased with the large response and wasn’t surprised by the Missourians’ support.

“We have already seen how folks across our great state have come together to support our neighbors in Joplin, stepping forward to help the community recover and rebuild from the devastating tornado,” he said in the news release. “It is one of the heartwarming characteristics of the Missouri spirit.”

As one of the seven sponsors of this challenge, the Tigers has been helping Joplin since last summer. Athletics department spokesman Chad Moller said the Tigers have been helping Joplin in various ways.

He said the exhibition game against Missouri Southern State University raised a significant amount of money. ESPN nationally broadcast the game, contributing to the event’s success.

He also said the One Mizzou T-shirt’s sale raised $250,000 for Joplin.

Besides financial support, 50 people from the MU football team went to Joplin last summer and helped by delivering daily necessities, cleaning up and loading semi trucks with non-perishable food items, Moller said.

Along with MU sports teams, MU Alternative Spring Break will also send a group of students to Joplin for this coming spring break.

Each student group is required to fundraise a certain amount of money to go on the trip. Joplin ASB student leader Ryan Bueckendorf said his group raised more than double the amount they needed to make the trip.

“People are more apt to recognize Joplin as something that requires support,” Bueckendorf said.

During the trip, he said his group will work with Reoies Spark, an organization for building habitats for communities, building shelters in Joplin.

“For the most part of our trip, we are mostly spending time with people in Joplin as we build shelters for them,” he said.

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