It was only two weeks ago that the entire Northeastern section of the United States was blasted by Hurricane Sandy. While some have returned to normal, there are far too many that are still in the recovery process. Thousands of people remain without power, or even worse, without somewhere to call home. Over the weekend, I went out to the Breezy Point section of Queens to help some family members with their completely flood-damaged basement. There were no expectations for the day other than pumping out all of the water and removing all of the items that were now contaminated.
After a couple of hours of working on the basement went by, I heard my Aunt call out “Adam, come to the front quickly”. As I emerged to the walk in front of the house, a surprise volunteer stood in front of me: Rangers Center Brad Richards (coincidentally I had a Rangers t-shirt on). Often times, we’ll see athletes helping out in a disaster recovery situation. While the assistance and generosity is always appreciated, it’s usually something organized by the team, where they stand to benefit from good PR amongst the good will. This was entirely different. Brad was there with one person (presumably a friend), he handed out a bunch of Home Depot gift cards, posed for some pictures (he also said I was wearing “the right shirt”), and was on his way to another block within a few minutes. It almost seemed like he didn’t want a big deal made about him being there. My hunch that he didn’t want a spectacle made about his presence was confirmed later in the day.
Like most of us, when we get our chance to take a picture with a celebrity or athlete, I posted the picture to my Facebook page. Later on in the day, a friend asked who that was in the picture. After she found out that it was a star player for the New York Rangers, she said she had no idea it was a pro-athlete. Not because she’s not a sports fan, but because he acted like an average guy that was there to help. She said Brad spent the whole afternoon working hard, keeping spirits up, and getting muddy like the rest of the volunteers. While we still have no hockey games to watch, it’s nice to see that the qualities that make a hockey player good on the ice shine through just as much off the ice. The New York Yankees may have donated $500,000 to the recovery effort (with a press release to go along with it to make sure everyone knew about it), but Brad Richards was tallying one of the biggest assists of his career.