“It was scary for me because I didn’t know what was going on and I couldn’t do anything to really comfort them,” Raekwon Jones recalls.
The Indiana University linebacker and oldest of seven kids grew up fewer than 30 miles from Mexico Beach, FL., considered ground zero of Hurricane Michael. His family’s home one of many destroyed.
“When I was on the phone a tree fell on the house at some point and I heard everyone scream,” Jones remembers. “Our house isn’t livable, it took a lot of damage there are trees going through it, water damage, it’s pretty much just demolished.”
Back in Bloomington and in the thick of the season, Raekwon struggled to say focused on football.
“I felt the pain sometimes if I was sitting in meetings because you are just sitting there you have a lot of thoughts going through your head sometimes I would get down,” Raekwon said.
“When he’s hurting, we are hurting and there’s a big need for his family we have tried as best we can to come alongside and provide help,” IU head coach Tom Allen said.
After braving the storm in Panama City then staying with family in Alabama, Raekwon’s mom stepdad and a few siblings sought refuge right here in Bloomington, staying at his apartment for a few days and having the chance to see him take the field against Penn State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“I told her, ‘I really need to see you all but we need to make it happen someway,’” Raekwon said of conversations with his mother ahead of their trek to Indiana. “It was just great to have them here and be able to talk to them and be able to see them because I hadn’t seen them since January.”
IU staff worked to get NCAA approval on a GoFundMe which was set up to help Raekwon’s family rebuild.
“We are going to be forever thankful for this,” Raekwon said of the outpouring of support. “This is a life-altering experience. There are great people in this state and around these facilities and program that are really willing to help their Hoosier family when things are tough and it’s just been a blessing.”
In just the first few days, the GoFundMe account has raised nearly $15,000. For more information or to donate, click here.