Close to Home

On Sunday, we woke up eager with anticipation of a day with friends in the south suburbs. We were playing on watching the Bears, chasing kids and catching up on life. We saw the threat of weather before we left but didn’t think much about it. My mom texted me and I could read the fear in her texts. And as the sirens were blaring, the game delayed, the first reports came in, I remember being frozen in front of our friend’s tv.

Severe Tornado Outbreak Hits Illinois

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Washington, IL destroyed by a tornado. Illinois. Miles from my hometown. The funny thing is that when you live in Central Illinois home is not just your town- big or small. It’s all of them. It is the area. The tornado hit home. So close to home. And so many people lost everything. And I know you have seen the coverage from the local papers to the national nightly news. The path is incredible to look at and the stories are so so real and close. My Facebook filled with reports of people safe, others declaring they lost everything and loved ones looking for information. I spent Sunday watching the status updates, news stories and tweets tell me what I already new. Central Illinois had been in the path of a violent storm.

Monday morning I found myself consumed with reading about it. And early in the morning a smile came over my face.

My high school’s football team was beaten by Washington High School’s football team last weekend in the quarterfinal state playoffs. But this week, in the wake of the tragedy, they are using our facilities and fields and the Pioneer Nation I am so proud to be a part of answered the call and will feeding the team after practice as well. 8 kids on the team lost their homes. We are given them equipment and anything else they need.

And the high school they are facing on Saturday is even more remarkable. The school is paying for charter buses to go to Washington, IL to pick up and take their fans to the game in Springfield. Paying for their opponents to bring fans. They will feed the fans, the players, their families and friends before and after the game. They attempt to give them some normalcy when life is anything but.

This is the spirit of Central Illinois. Where family is your community. Where doing good trumps the desire for a victory and people rally around the ones in need instead of worrying about themselves.

I have been reading, listening and watching and know that Washington will rebuild and will rise again.

And in the meantime, I remember that there is good in the world and Central Illinois showed that to me again.

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