Monday, June 30, 2008

5 Reasons To Play Golf

There are many reasons why you should play in our golf tournament July 19, but here's 5 reasons why we chose golf as a fund-raiser over other sports (although the night golf could end up being just as bad as any of these pics :) )

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chapman Tornado-Day 17

I decided to take a break from the golf tournament updates (33 teams so far!) to give you an update on the town. There hasn't been a lot to talk about, because options are still being weighed on our church and schools as to what is going to happen next. The first step is to know how money we get from insurance, and I don't think that has even happened yet.

However, the people who own individual houses are getting something accomplished. Here's a new video I made today showing the town's progress. The demolition phase has officially begun, as you will see.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Add 1 p.m. Tee Time For Golf Tourney

OK, it's official: this tournament has surpassed all of our expectations. It's so big that we have to create another tee time! The 8 a.m. tournament is just about full, so we are combining the 8 a.m. with a 1 p.m. tee time to make one big tournament. Both groups will eat from 12-1 p.m. (one after their tournament and one before), and we will hold the raffle drawing and silent auction then as well.

If any of you that have signed up for the 8 a.m. tournament want to switch to the 1 p.m. tee time, please let me know ASAP.

We also still have about 10 slots left for the 6 p.m. tournament.

Prizes/donations continue to roll in. The Mane Thing Hair Salon in Junction City has donated a Diamond Package that includes a pedicure, manicure, massage, facial, haircut and lunch – she says it costs $285 to get one of those. They also donated a full-body massage.

Home Lumber & Decor out of Junction City is sponsoring a hole and is also giving us a $160 power tool of some sort.

This may be the best, though: Dick Edwards out of Junction City is sponsoring a hole-in-one contest for a new car! They are paying for the insurance if it happens, so hopefully someone knocks it in. There have been many others, and we are trying to keep them all updated on our website.

I have also included some photos of the houses that belong to the community members that we will be directly helping. You can see why they need all the help they can get.

Again, let us know if you're interested in playing or donating. You can go to the website below, or you can e-mail

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Golf Tourney Update

The benefit golf tournament is up and running, and boy is it starting out fast! We already have 12 teams, more than $600 in prizes, and more hole sponsors than we have holes (don't worry hole sponsors, we'll just double up on holes)!

Nichole and Sara Cook (head girls' basketball coach) went to Manhattan on Friday and came back with A LOT of prizes. Some of them include:

Ballards - K-State clothing
Pat's Blue Ribbon - $40 in gift certificates
Chipotle - Coupons
Town Center - $25 gift certificate
Old Chicago - Free pizza certificates
Early Edition - $40 in gift certificates
Bobby T's - $50 in gift certificates
Buffalo Wild Wings - $130 in gift certificates (and some waitresses there offered to be the beer cart girls for the tourney!)
RockaBelly Deli - 6 free sub coupons
Varney's - $100 in gift certificates

And that doesn't even include the hole sponsors or any businesses in Junction City, Abilene, or Salina! We're also in the process of looking for someone to cater each of the tournaments, and we may have margarita machines and radio stations out there the day of.

All of this is of course making us really excited about this tournament. We're up to 8 USD 473 families that we have found lost their homes, so there is a big need for help. Remember, even if you can't golf you can still make a donation.

Make checks payable to:
Sara Cook, and include a Memo: USD473 Staff Fund
Send to:

Chapman Benefit Golf
c/o Sara Cook
1100 Leprechaun Dr.
Chapman, KS 67431

Thanks to everyone who has helped so far. I will try to keep you updated on the progress of the tournament and of the school and city as much as possible. Here's the website to the tournament if you want it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Benefit Golf Tournament

All right guys, many of you asked how you can help, so here's how.

The Chapman H.S. athletic coaches are sponsoring two separate golf tournaments on Saturday, July 19 in Chapman. One is an 8 a.m. start and the other is a 6 p.m. start with night golf on the back nine (glow balls and necklaces provided...yes, we do expect a lawsuit over the deal). All of the other information is on the flyer that I provided below, or you can visit our website at the address below.

Here's how you can help us:

1. Come and play! The Holiday Inn Express in Abilene has given us special rates of $70/night for singles or $96/night for suites for either Friday or Saturday night. There's also a Bed & Breakfast about one block from us that I would assume be up and running by then. We would offer you our beds, but they will already be taken up by family members.

2. If you can't play, then donate money to the cause. Nichole thinks I'm crazy (and maybe I am), but my goal is to raise $10,000 for these families. Go to the website to find out where to send the money.

3. Donate prizes. We will be having hole prizes and raffle drawings for both tournaments, so we need a lot of items. These can be anything from gift certificates to golf bags, but they don’t have to be golf related. Tools, clothes, sports memorabilia, whatever. If you have connections, I'll take them. You can mail smaller items to me or we could pick up larger items if you want.

4. Be a hole sponsor. If your business (or a business you know) is interested in having your name on a hole, let me know. We are asking $100.

5. Spread the word. We want to fill up all 18 slots for both tournaments.

Although I don't know an official count, we can think of five USD 473 staff families as of right now who have literally lost EVERYTHING. Some have had good luck with insurance, but others are really going to struggle with the money they're getting. This is a great way for you to help them. $10,000 is a lot of money, but I have seen firsthand how giving people are.

Let me know if you have questions, and thanks in advance for the help. Here's the website and flyer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chapman Tornado-Day 7

This is a photo in the Salina Journal that shows the path of the storm. The high school is in the bottom middle. The most impressive part may be the trees next to the river on the bottom left hand side. Heading out to Abilene on Old 40 is breath-taking.

I am also including a very short video that shows a little bit of progress in the town. A lot of debris has been lifted, and the curfew has been lifted as well which means softball was played in Chapman for the first time tonight. That is a big deal here.
There was a school board meeting today that Nichole went to. They are going to use the Construction Tech house that the kids built last school year as the high school office, and they are also looking into using the Catholic parish and outlying schools for classrooms. They will also be bringing in mobile classrooms, although they aren't sure where they are going to put them yet. They also said they are going to use "responsible spending," which means if it really saves them money to save a building they will. Right now they are a lot more concerned about getting school started this fall, and they will mess with the longterm future later.

One big blow to rebuilding in the town is that most of the buildings were in the flood plane, which I was told means that there can't be a basement built on the new homes. Of course the concern is that everyone will leave their lots behind and build or buy somewhere else, leaving the heart of Chapman empty. We're all hoping that doesn't happen.

P.S. Those of you trying to get onto the church website won't be able to do it until the church gets permission to have the site. I was told that this morning. Hopefully it won't take long.

Here's the video. Information on the golf tournament should be up within 24 hours.

How To Donate To Our Church

One of our church member's sons was gracious enough to start a website for our church so donations could be made. The website is below if you are interested. As of right now we are going to have services each week at the racing museum, although a more permanent site is being looked into. We finished off gutting the parsonage yesterday and are now working on the church. I say we, but I only got down there yesterday afternoon. There have been many volunteers helping, including some community members who aren't even members of our church. Yesterday we even had some kids from Smith Center and Salina helping us out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How To Donate To The USD 473 District

In the previous blog I told you how you could make a donation to the relief fund, but if you want to donate directly to the school district check the information below.

Chapman Tornado-Day 5

Finally, some progress! It seemed like the town looked worse every day Nichole and I saw it, but today there are signs that progress had been made.

One sign was that the high school staff, with the help of many volunteers, basically finished pulling everything out of the high school. It took three long days, but they are now ready for the next step, which is figuring out what stays and what gets demolished. I was told today that as of right now the only part of the high school that they are going to try and save was the band, music, and multi-purpose rooms and the cafeteria and the weight room. In other words, basically the north side of the school. The high school gym may also be saved, but that decision would come later.

My room was a complete loss, of course, and it was pretty sad taking down my stuff off of the wall and walking out of there one last time. I've had a lot of former students ask me if I was able to save certain things like my gumball machine (no), the Journalism Wall of Fame photos (no), or Nutty the Squirrel (only the head). When you spend 8 years in one place, it's harder to leave than you might think. However, when you find pieces of glass embedded into your desk, you know it's time to move on. :)

There has been no talk as far as I know about where we will have school, but we have been guaranteed that it will start Aug. 18 as planned, and it will be held somewhere in the Chapman district. Where, we don't know, but I'm sure that will come in the next couple of days.

The town has also made significant progress over the last couple of days. It looks like a lot of the debris has been moved away, so the streets and curbs look a lot more organized. They also have made the streets one way, which clears up some of the clutter. I actually bought a bike yesterday as my Father's Day gift just so I could get around a little easier (and let me say that the hill to our house is a real pain in the butt!).

Of course the volunteers are also still coming in groves. I was told today that the American Legion fed 300 people on Saturday and 400 on Sunday, there is enough bottled water to start a flood if we wanted, and I have already heard of MANY people/organizations who are starting donations.

Speaking of that, here's the address to send your donations if you want to help in that way (many of you have asked). However, we are still planning on having a golf tournament to help people who lost their homes sometime in July, so if you want to help in that way and have fun at the same time hold off on the donations (or make both if you want). I'm going to try my best to make the golf tournament a pretty big deal, which probably means I will fail miserably, but oh well.

P.O. BOX 321

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Chapman Tornado-Day 3

Today was very long and very tiring, but we got all of the desks, EVERY book in the school (including the library), and all of the file cabinets out from the entire school. I don't have video, but I am attaching some photos of the past couple of days.

The biggest news of the day was all of the volunteers who came to help. There were literally hundreds of them, including some cheerleaders from Wichita, and some people who just walked into town from the meeting spot with rakes and chain saws looking for a place to use them. They didn't have to look far. Although only staff could go into the school, there were all kinds of people waiting outside to move the items from the school to the various trailers. It was really incredible to see.

Everyone has hit a wall, so we're taking tomorrow off to spend time with family. The Methodist church is meeting at the racing museum, which should be a pretty big event.

One of the best pictures of this group is the one of the Chapman flag up in the middle of the rubble. We may be seeing that one on the cover of our first newspaper or yearbook next year.

P.S. My wife has informed me that the tornado was an F3, not a G3 like I said in the previous blog. Hey, give me a break. I'm not a meteorologist.

The auditorium

Our Methodist Church

A look at the media center with computers still inside

A line of helpers moving textbooks to trailers

The Chapman flag

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chapman Tornado-Day 2

I didn't think that one day would make a dent in this mess, but as we drove in this morning we did see progress. Many trees had already been cut up and were on the side of the road, and many people had already gotten all of their belongings out the of houses. We also have electricity and water back at our house already, which is pretty amazing. They now claim that the tornado was just a G3, which is unbelievable. I know I never want to see a G4 or G5, that's for sure.

Our day was spent helping some close friends who lost their home and then making our way up to the high school. Once we got the OK to go in, we made our way to each room and got out all of the computers and TVs from each room that were salvageable. My job was to film each room and take pictures of anything that wasn't worth taking for insurance purposes. (By the way, if you haven't already done so, make sure that you videotape everything in your house. It will get you a lot more money from insurance. Some of our friends are wishing they had done that now) My room was pretty bad, but we were able to save about half of the computers. From what we were told, the only building they school district is thinking about saving is the district gym, which is where the high school plays. Everything else is probably going to be bull-dozed, which is why we're trying to get everything out. We still haven't heard where we will be teaching next year, but we were reassured that we all do have jobs.

You may be tired of watching videos, but if not I made another one that shows the inside of both gymnasiums and of some of the rooms in the high school. It's a lot shorter than the first one, about 10 minutes.

Also, some of you mentioned something about how you can help. I'm not sure about a financial fund yet, but Nichole and I have already been in touch with some of the other teachers about having a golf tournament to benefit the USD 473 staff that lost their homes. It's in the very initial stages, but when I know more I will let you know, too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chapman Tornado

I'm not sure why we were so lucky, but as many of you know we managed to come out of the Chapman tornado unscathed, which is better than most of the town can say. It was a very scary and helpless night.

We were in our basement when it hit, and at the time we didn't think it did a lot of damage. What we would find out later was that we were about 1/2 block away from 100 year old trees being uprooted and about 3 blocks away from total devastation. Luckily Jace slept through the whole thing and Mackenzie was up but didn't really know what was going on.

The high school, middle school and grade school all seem like they are gone beyond repair, as is our Methodist church and the Lutheran church. MANY of our friends lost their homes and are awaiting the OK to go in and collect whatever belongings they have left. We are currently in Salina with Nichole's parents until the electricity gets turned back on, and I have no idea how long that will take.

We've had many emotions over the past 24 hours, including scared, fortunate, worry, and even guilt. It's very difficult to tell someone your house went untouched when theirs is lying in rubble. I really want to help someone, but at this point everyone is kind of walking around in shell shock.

I will say that the emergency crew, police force, and national guard have all done a great job and seem to be moving very quickly. We're hoping that our stay in Salina will be a short one.

I also want to say that we REALLY appreciate all of the prayers, phone calls and concerns. It's times like these that you really find out who your friends are. Please keep all of them coming, and please especially pray for the people who don't have homes to go back to.

I'm sure many of you have seen photos and videos online since this has become national news, but I went out and filmed some footage myself at about 6 a.m. after a night without sleep. It's about 18 minutes long, so make sure you have some time to watch it. If you want to bookmark this site, I will try to keep it updated regularly so you know how we and the town are doing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Trip To Nebraska

Here's some photos of our trip up north at the beginning of the summer. We enjoyed seeing Todd flying his plane, and Mackenzie and Jace loved playing with all 8 of their cousins.