By Jason Elmquist
MOORE, Okla. —
Any bit of help is welcome in tornado-stricken Moore — whether its cleaning up a cemetery or grilling a fresh meal for victims and relief helpers.
Oklahoma State men’s basketball coach Travis Ford — along with members of his coaching staff, several Stillwater residents and OSU police officers — did the latter on Thursday by hauling an industrial-sized grill down to Moore and grilling burgers and hot dogs throughout the day.
“I think we’re going to the night down here and cook throughout the night,” Ford said by phone Thursday afternoon. “We were cooking by 11 o’clock or so and it’s been non-stop since. As fast we can get them off, they’re eating them. It’s been almost overwhelming how appreciative everyone has been.”
The OSU coach came up with the idea of taking a cooker down to Moore after talking with friends who had assisted in other major natural disasters.
“I’d had a couple of friends who had been to Katrina and helped, and to Joplin, and I called them and asked them what they did and one of them told me they had hooked up one of these industrial grills behind their truck and loaded up hamburgers and hot dogs and took off,” Ford said. “I just thought that was a really good idea. So I threw my coaching staff together and said, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do. I’m going to find a grill, find as many hot dogs and hamburgers as I can find and buns.’ And we got it all together in the matter of a day.”
Ford said the reception has been very positive of the OSU coaching staff helping in the aid efforts following Monday’s deadly tornado that ravaged Moore. Ford said he has had people asking for photos with the Cowboy coach, which he has gladly obliged to be a part of.
“It’s been tremendous. It’s amazing how appreciative everybody is,” the sixth-year OSU coach said. “They’ll come by and ask for pictures and things like that — which we love to do. Anything to help lighten the mood, we’ll do anything that can help. It’s been a great response.”
Assisting Oklahomans in need is particularly important for one member on Ford’s staff. Former OSU player and Pawnee native Keiton Page, who joined the coaching staff last year after graduating, joined in the grilling effort along with his girlfriend.
“He’s been here the whole time and even his girlfriend, who is actually competing in Miss Oklahoma here in the next week or so, took her time to come down and help us,” Ford said.
Serving mass amounts of food is nothing new to Ford. The Oklahoma State coach helped served pancakes to OSU students at the student union during finals week in December.
“We were talking about that a while ago and how I didn’t want to see a pancake forever after that,” Ford said. “I’ll tell you, I’m getting my worth of hamburgers and hot dogs now. But it’s all well worth it.”