MCGILL: With W.Va. Floods In Mind, Yurachek Extends Helping Hand to Texas
The Word on the Herd -- Aug. 29, 2017
By Chuck McGill
Ryan Yurachek listened on the phone as his father, Hunter, told him stories from a day of dealing with the floods in Texas.
Hunter Yurachek is the athletic director at the University of Houston, and the Yurachek family resides in nearby Friendswood, which is about 20 miles southeast of Houston. Those areas were recipients of the highest rainfall totals as Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm at landfall, hit the region over the weekend. As much as 40 inches of rain fell in some areas, forcing more than 3,000 rescue operations. The death toll was still climbing as of Tuesday morning.
The younger Yurachek’s mind couldn’t help but drift back to his trip to Elkview, West Virginia, in the summer of 2016. He stood in the back of the Marshall University football equipment truck and helped unload supplies to people who had their lives stripped away from them in the devastating floods that ravaged parts of the Mountain State in June of that year.
On Sunday night, he called his father and listened to him talk about the 18-wheeler completely submerged blocks from his family’s Texas home; how Hunter Yurachek helped the elderly into the back of a pickup truck and transported them to the gymnasium of a local high school; how his younger brother’s high school quarterback escaped the flood waters on a jet ski.
“It’s unbelievable,” Ryan said.
So, the senior tight end – who will begin his final collegiate season this Saturday (6:30 p.m.) when Marshall hosts Miami at Joan C. Edwards Stadium – decided to help. He knew he couldn’t get back to Houston to lend a hand because airports have been shut down there and he has obligations here in Huntington as a student and an athlete. Instead, Ryan started a GoFundMe page aimed at generating funds he could donate to victims of the floods (link at the bottom of the story).
And he knew the generous and sympathetic West Virginians would be what he tries to be every day of his life – a good teammate.
“The reason I thought about doing this is because of last summer’s floods,” Ryan said. “When we took that truck to Elkview I remember how crazy it all was, and this somehow might be even more severe. I felt like people here would be willing to help out because they have seen how floods can affect an area.”
Yurachek set what he thought was a lofty goal of $1,000 for the online fundraiser. He surpassed that before the end of his first day, and people were still giving to the cause.
Among the notable contributors: Doc Holliday, Marshall’s head football coach; Mike Hamrick, MU’s athletic director; Aaron Goebbel, the associate athletic director for external affairs at Marshall; and Mark Gale, the assistant athletic director of football operations for the Thundering Herd.
Hamrick, of course, is especially empathetic when it comes to the tremendous loss and suffering floods can create. The ninth-year AD at Marshall is a native of Clendenin, West Virginia, and watched his hometown get washed out in the floods that hit his home state on June 23, 2016. Five days later, a 53-foot green and white equipment truck rolled into the parking lot of Elkview Baptist Church with Holliday, Hamrick and football players ready to unload mops, toilet paper, cleaning products, water and more for those in need.
That day has stuck with Ryan Yurachek.
“I remember the look on their faces,” he said. “Everyone was dirty and filthy and I can’t imagine what it is like to go through that. I think the biggest thing that stuck with me is all of the small things people needed and the amount of people who were forced out of their homes.”
Messages of support accompanied some donations, many of whom identified themselves as Herd fans.
“Respect what you are doing, Ryan. Go Herd!” read one.
“Thanks for making a difference, Ryan!” read another.
Those interested in donating to Ryan Yurachek’s cause can paste this link in a web browser – https://www.gofundme.com/friendswood-tx-flooding-relief – or go to www.gofundme.com and type “Yurachek” in the search bar and click on the first result.