Jags raise $90K for Meester's tornado-ravaged hometown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars raised $90,000 to aid center Brad Meester's Iowa hometown, which was ravaged by a tornado last month.

The Jaguars received donations from players, coaches, staff members and partners, and raised money through the sale of Aplington-Parkersburg Falcons hats.

A check for $24,000 will be given to the Aplington-Parkersburg High School football program and $66,000 will go to the Parkersburg Relief Fund.

"The fundraising is huge for them," Meester said Tuesday. "All the money that goes to the relief fund is going directly to the ones that were affected. I think it's going to be huge for them because they are obviously going through a tough time right now having to find another place to live, having to buy everything, just the little things they have lost.

"Having to wait for insurance to come through has been tough because they still have bills to pay and everything else. I know this will definitely help them a lot."

Nearly half of Meester's hometown was flattened by a May 25 tornado. Several people died and dozens more were injured.

Meester's parents, who live about 10 miles south of Parkersburg, avoided damage. But his wife's family wasn't so fortunate. Several of Jamie Meester's relatives, including her parents and grandmother, lost their homes.

Brad Meester traveled to Iowa last week to survey the damage. Although he had heard stories and seen pictures, witnessing the leveled areas firsthand was overwhelming.

"The pictures don't tell the whole story," Meester said. "Just going in there and seeing absolutely nothing. All those things you remember growing up and seeing are completely gone. All the trees, everything, it's just flat. There is nothing there.

"It was definitely tough to see. It was tough to see the pictures, but it's really hard to see in person."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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