The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 15, 2012

Chiefs notice improvement, positive moods during third work trip to Joplin

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was part of a contingent that made its way to Joplin last June, just days after the May 22, to help with cleanup efforts.

On Friday, more than a year later, he stood near 25th and Kentucky and extolled the progress that has been made and observed the positively-changing mood of the city.

“It’s really cool because last year, it was tragedy right in front of you and there was the sadness. Even though there was hope at that point in time, it was hope resting on nothing concrete,” he said. “Now we’ve met the people we’re building the houses for and to see their energy, you can tell it’s a different type of hope. It’s grounded in genuine faith.”

Pioli was joined by about two dozen players — mostly rookies — and more than 100 Chiefs staffers as they teamed with Habitat For Humanity to work construction as part of Governor’s Joplin Challenge, which will result in 35 homes being built with the help of the Chiefs, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and others.

Clark Hunt, the Chiefs’ chairman and CEO, was also in town.

“It’s tremendous what has happened and it’s a testament to the community and the citizens,” he said. “I remember standing to a place pretty near here around Christmas time and looking in this direction and there were very few houses. It has really come a long ways fast but clearly there is a lot that still needs to be done.”

Dontari Poe, Kansas City’s first-round pick in April’s draft, was still at the University of Memphis when the tornado struck last year. He said he didn’t know much about the disaster until he was filled in by teammates on the trip from Kansas City.

“I heard about it, but to be honest it was nothing but that,” he said. “But as I came down here, people start to tell you about it, then you start to notice it. People were talking to me on the bus saying last year it looked like a bomb exploded. To see how far they have come and to see how much farther we can go, it’s a good, positive thing.”

Brady Quinn — a five-year veteran — signed with the Chiefs on March 17 to back up quarterback Matt Cassell. He was with the Denver Broncos organization when the tornado struck and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the rebuilding process.

“I remember when I heard about Joplin last year and the devastation. There wasn’t a whole lot we could do with the schedule we had ... but I have a chance now to come down and help these people out,” said Quinn, whose father was a homebuilder. “ It’s an incredible feeling to be able to give back to the fans. They give us so much support. Any time you see people in this situation and see what they go through, it really kind of digs at you and puts things into perspective.”

One of the homes the Chiefs were helping frame on Thursday will belong to Linda Hazely, who had the players and staff sign the floor plans, which will be framed and displayed.

“She shared her story with me about where she was during the tornado and about how her only focus was on her grandchildren and children,” Hunt said. “Needless to say, she’s thrilled to be here and see her house going up.”

Thursday marked the third time the Chiefs have come to Joplin — once last June and once around Christmas — and Pioli made it clear they would be back again.

“We were here a year ago, we’re going to be here this year, next year, we’re going to be here for a long time,” he said. “This is our community. We’ve talked about this before. There is a ‘Chiefs Kingdom.’ Any area out here that is affected by something like this, we’re going to be out here helping them, just like the fans are there to help us.”

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