Former NBA Player Renaldo Balkman flew to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma to help. He tried to leave before Hurricane Maria hit, but could not as the massive storm left him trapped inside of his Puerto Rico home and airports closed for departure out.
He wound up escaping out of his Puerto Rico home during the storm and sleeping in his car nearly 10 hours as the deadly storm passed through Puerto Rico. “I decided to leave my condo because it was getting real, real, real bad and the winds started picking up. (There was) debris flying everywhere,” Balkman said. He recorded video of some damage outside his home.
“We had to jump the wall to get over to walk through some water just to get out, you know, and it was difficult ‘cause I started running out of food and water,” Balkman.
Balkman was able to fly back to his hometown of Tampa on a private plane, after being stuck in Puerto Rico for days with no water and little food. The basketball superstar found himself to be part of the story of survival due to mother nature. His focus once landing in Florida was on going back to Puerto Rico to take supplies. He has already delivered supplies and plans to take several trips to Puerto Rico during his offseason of basketball to help those in need. Right now he is raising money and collecting donations so that he can take those supplies to the island.
If you would like to help, you can drop off items at these locations:
The Iam Program Gym (5202 Eagle Trail Drive – Level 2 in Tampa) – Accepting Donations 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Rivers of Life Church Ministries (301 Lakewood Drive in Brandon) – Accepting Donations M-F 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Hide-Away Storage (1505 US-301 in Tampa) – Accepting Donations 9:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
A Fighter’s Chance Dance & Fitness Gym (1263 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon) – Accepting Donations MWF 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Designer’s Way Church (3910 N US Hwy 301 in Tampa) – Accepting Donations October 7 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. & October 8 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Donation sites are accepting: toothbrushes, toothpaste, batteries, flashlights, towels, blankets, trash bags, bottled water, first aid kits, insect repellant, diapers, toilet paper, feminine products, deodorant soap, shampoo, conditioner, baby wipes, baby formula, 1 gallon ziplock bags, non-perishable foods.
Balkman plans to fly back to Puerto Rico with supplies on a bi-monthly basis. “It gives me goosebumps talking about it ‘cause I went through it,” Balkman said.