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November 6, 2012Brian Long has seen the pictures and heard the stories, has been told of boroughs underwater and boardwalks in shambles.
But Long, a walk-on guard on the Kentucky basketball team, still is having trouble wrapping his head around the damage that Superstorm Sandy caused in his the New York City area.
"It was unbelievable," said Long, a native of Dumont, N.J., fewer than 20 miles from New York City. "To be honest, I'd never seen anything like it."
Long was was able to keep in touch with friends and family last week, able to track the storm's impact on TV. But he wasn't prepared for the devastation it caused. His parents still were without power over the weekend. Hoboken, N.J., where Long's brother lives, faces a long road back from Sandy's impact. The Seaside Boardwalk in Lavellette, N.J., where Long spends his summers, is in shambles.
There wasn't much Long could do from Lexington. But on Wednesday, he'll help the Kentucky basketball program play its part in assisting victims of Sandy's wrath.
Long and his UK teammates will answer phones and take donations during a telethon Wednesday night, part of coach John Calipari's efforts to raise money for victims of the storm.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to benefit victims of the storm.
"We have matching funds," Calipari said. "Right now, I don't want to give you the total number, but it's well into six figures that we have together. I've made phone calls and (gotten) commitments from people, so that when people give money it will be matched by another donation."
Kentucky held a similar telethon in 2010 to raise money for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
This year's telethon will run from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. on Wednesday. It will air in Lexington on WKYT for the first hour and on CWKYT for the second. The entire event will stream live at WKYT.com, where donations can be made for 24 hours beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Kentucky also will auction items to raise money for Sandy victims, including blocks of the floor on which the Wildcats won last season's NCAA championship, autographed by Calipari and the top two picks in June's NBA Draft, former Cats Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
To donate during the telethon, call (859) 299-5455 in the Lexington area or toll free 1-855-257-2700 outside the area. During non-telethon hours, you can make donations by calling (859) 235-1331 or 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Kentucky opens the season Friday against Maryland in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"If we're able to do something and to raise a ton of money for these people and these victims, you have to do it," Calipari said. "It's not an option of, 'Well, you've got a game Friday against Maryland and isn't that a big (deal).' Yeah, it's big. I know it is. But I think what we're doing here is bigger. And what we're doing is letting our players understand it's bigger."