“There was complete destruction. There were power lines down for miles, cable wires on the roads and water blocking pathways. Trees were knocked down and boats, even yachts, were in the middle of the road or in places that they weren’t supposed to be. There were dead animals, houses were leveled and had at least six feet of water in them. There was two inches of mud on the floor and mold growing everywhere. Businesses and hotels were destroyed.” This is how Camp Gladiator (CG) trainer Roger Wright-Lester described the devastation he witnessed in Port Aransas while delivering supplies in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Fellow trainer Karl Ford recalled seeing the pictures of the areas affected by the hurricane and felt compelled to help. “I really want[ed] to do something but I [didn’t] know what I should do. And it just so happened that’s when Roger called me.”
Just days after Hurricane Harvey swept through the coast, several San Antonio area fitness trainers started organizing relief efforts. After gathering supplies and donations, Roger, trainer Danielle Palmieri Brown, and one of their campers went to help in Rockport and Port Arnasas. The following day, an even bigger group of trainers and campers joined them.
“You never really know what it is like until you see it in person. Some of what you see can be so hard to process. I have been unable to go a day without thinking of what the people in these towns must be facing and how blessed I am to come home to a toothbrush and running water.” Danielle posted on Facebook.
“We met a lady who is in her 50s or 60s who was cleaning up her property and we went over to help. We helped five homes in Port A.” Roger described. “The next day we went to Rockport to help out a camper’s in-laws. Their whole house was piled up with trees on it and debris was everywhere. We moved trash out of their yard and cut down trees.”
For those in the CG community, it’s no surprise to see trainers and campers taking the mission “to positively impact the physical fitness and ultimately the lives of as many people as possible” a step further. The CG motto, after all, is “Better together”, which trainers and campers alike take to heart.
“I even wore my better together shirt down there because that slogan or creed is a true statement.” Karl recounted “It’s like a hand, one finger can only do so much [but] all five clenched can knock down walls. And you want something like that—we are better together.”
Danielle related the humbling generosity their group experienced while they were cleaning up destroyed houses and yards. “You are handed cold water from volunteers passing by in cars. You’re hand[ed] food by families who drove down with their kids to hand out bagged lunches and fruit. Churches stop by and ask you if you would like dinner as they hand over everything you and your 13 person crew need to eat. The Salvation Army comes by with warm food, and people from all over stop in and get out of their cars ready to help.”
Their group is already planning to go again. “I am currently rounding up another crew for this weekend!” Danielle shared “And I would love more hands on deck and, of course, more donations.” She has set up a GoFundMe account to offset the cost of gas and food for her group.
In addition to the volunteer efforts of individual trainers, Camp Gladiator has raised over $118,000 to support the Houston community.
As you probably know, Hurricane Harvey has laid a path of destruction all across the southeastern part of Texas and into western Louisiana. While our primary focus at Neighborly Town is on helping build better neighborhoods, there are times when the term neighbor aptly applies to those who do not live close by. We’re in awe of the selflessness and compassion of people like the Camp Gladiator trainers mentioned above.
If you would like to join the San Antonio area CG volunteers on the coast, please contact Danielle.
Phone: (210) 773-0978