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Weeden to help tornado victims

Posted May 23, 2013

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is returning to his native Oklahoma, where he plans to spend the weekend helping tornado victims.

News of the tornado that ravaged Moore, Okla., on Monday literally hit close to home for Cleveland Browns quarterback and Oklahoma native Brandon Weeden. His wife, Melanie, is from Moore.

“It’s devastating,” Weeden said after Thursday’s organized team activity practice. “It actually ran right through my wife’s hometown. Fourth Street, the path that they kept talking about, my mother-in-law lives on Main, which is four blocks north of it, and my brother-in-law lives about two blocks south of it. It went right over top of them. We’re very fortunate not to have some injuries and everybody’s safe. Obviously, there’s damage.

“There’s a park that’s two blocks between my brother-in-law and my mother-in-law. They said if you were at that park, ‘Get out of the way.’ It was destroyed, and once we heard it was destroyed, there was no cell phone service. We couldn’t get a hold of them for about an hour. It’s tough being so far away.

“My brother-in-law just got in a car and drove away from it, and my mother-in law works in the administration for Moore Public Schools and she was in a basement, fortunately. We’re very, very blessed. We got lucky, but being up here and seeing my wife, she was rattled. It was tough. It was very tough.”

Melanie Weeden has several friends who are elementary school teachers back in Moore, and Weeden praised those educators who shielded their students from the tornado’s wrath while putting themselves in harm’s way.

“One friend just moved schools and we were just hoping it wasn’t the one she was involved in,” Weeden said. “There are some brave, brave teachers that did a lot of good things to help those children, and those are the heroes in this whole deal.”

After finding out that his wife’s family and friends were okay, Weeden contacted his friend, Todd Lamb, Oklahoma’s Lieutenant Governor, about ways to help those affected by the tornado. Following Thursday’s practice, Weeden said he planned to return to Oklahoma to help with relief efforts.

“I’m going home to help volunteer, do as much as I can,” Weeden said. “I know it’s tough, but there’s so much devastation. Just to do my part, I feel like it’s the right thing to do, especially when it’s close to my wife’s family.

“Whatever (Lamb) tells me, I’ll do anything. Whether it’s getting in the rubble, doing whatever, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be there to help.”

Monday’s tornado reminded Weeden of the tornado outbreak on May 3, 1999, when 66 tornadoes touched down between Oklahoma and Kansas during a three-day period.

“I was at the park and it went right over the park, but I was underground in the tunnel,” Weeden said. “It’s tough. When they do come, you hope they’re never as big as this one.

“That’s a big-time tornado and we’ve been fortunate. We’ve only had a few of those since I’ve been around, but they’re tough. My best wishes go to every family involved.”