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Morning Express with Robin Meade

A fast, personal, and smart blend of all the news you want in the morning. We call it "News in the Fast Lane." So buckle up.

Tuscaloosa teams up to tackle recovery

*About a week after tornadoes ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama a message popped up in the @morn_eXpress twitter feed... it read: "@winnieawright: Turned down an internship with HLN and the Morning Express with Robin Meade so I can stay in Alabama and rebuild." Well, we couldn't just let that go. We contacted @winnieawright (real name: Winnie Wright) and asked if she'd keep us posted on Tuscaloosa. This is her second of 4 planned entries about how that community is recovering:

Alabama Head football Coach Nick Saban recently told a group of volunteers “In Tuscaloosa, we aren’t just a team on Saturdays.” After the tornado that ravaged much of the South a month ago, I have found this to be very true. The University of Alabama athletics department and their alum have really impressed me lately. Many former tide players have come back to Tuscaloosa, despite their busy schedules to help with relief efforts in our broken city.

Photo by iReporter Leigh Darilek

Marcel Dareus, Julio Jones, Javier Arenas, and many more have all shown their support, made donations, and offered a helping hand. I’ve seen many athletes tweet that they hate what has happened to Tuscaloosa because it is their home away from home. I can appreciate that because Tuscaloosa has done the same for me. Every year this town welcomes thousands of students with open arms.

Coach Saban, basketball coach Anthony Grant, and the current Alabama Crimson Tide athletes have been putting in work all over Tuscaloosa County. Coach Saban’s charity "Nick’s Kids" and Coach Grant’s "Sweet Home Fund" are both raising money for those affected by the recent tornadoes. I find it really respectable that these athletic teams have shown so much support and compassion. They aren’t paid to help, but they want to. I take pride in the fact that they want to help rebuild, and didn’t just pack up and leave for the summer.

It is no secret that Tuscaloosa is one of the most sports obsessed cities in America. Many will say the University is why Tuscaloosa had the more media coverage than any other city in Alabama. It makes a good story I suppose. Football isn’t just a sport here; it’s a way of life. The players are celebrities. That’s why I feel it is important for these famous faces to show they care.

A friend of mine is helping me put together an event we are going to call “Barbequing with the NFL Pros” in July to raise money for the victims of the April 27 tornado. We think people would love to have their favorite Alabama alum serve them barbeque, cold drinks, and maybe some motivation. We wanted to put this event together because we heard that a lot of the graduates want to help, they just weren’t sure how. I think this would give many of the athletes a chance to show Alabama that they care and have not forgotten Tuscaloosa.

I really can’t say enough about the support the University of Alabama and its athletic teams have shown Tuscaloosa in her time of need. The University was not affected, most of the athletes made it out scotch free. They could have easily gone about their business, but they were there to help. Just an encouraging word, or a helping hand means so much more than a donation. People like to see that the athletes they so adamantly support also support them. We are a team, not just on Saturdays.

If you would like to donate to “Nick’s Kids” please visit
For the “Sweet Home Fund” visit
For more information about “Barbequing with the NFL Pros” please email

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