State of the Hogs: Razorback Relief

Razorback Relief: Project Haiti is set for June 25. Volunteers are needed for 24-hour marathon at Tyson indoor track facility.

Rich Morris could always go low. He shot tiny numbers as an All-SEC golfer at Arkansas. Several times the El Dorado, Kan., product went as low as 68 during an impressive four-year Razorback career.

But now he's going after big numbers. Really big numbers.

That's the goal June 25 for Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti. Morris is the organizer for the 24-hour event set for the Randal Tyson Track Center. Razorback athletes will volunteer and work beside fans to help the Haiti, hit by a devastating earthquake Jan. 12.

The goal: package a record 2 million meals. This event hopes to smash the efforts at events in Los Angeles and Kansas City which produced between 1 and 1.2 million packaged meals.

It won't be easy. Organizers from the UA and Numana, Inc., will need enough volunteers to fill Bud Walton Arena.

"We did one of these in Wichita," said Morris, who works at Numana, an organization founded by his father. "We had around 40,000 volunteers. We don't need that many, but maybe half that. It is a big undertaking.

"I can't stress enough that anyone can help. Any age. We will find you something to do."

Anyone at least 4-years old can participate and make a difference. Volunteers can work any two-hour shift in the 24-hour marathon, or multiple shifts. Work begins at 7 p.m. Friday, June 25. Contact Morris at richmorris@acumenholdings.com or just show up.

Morris said the event will be uplifting for all volunteers.

"The music, the excitement as we fill up the trucks, it's spectacular," Morris said. "As we send packages out the door, a gong sounds. Everyone will leave here excited about the work they did."

So how does one of these events compare to one of those 68s in competition?

"Oh, it's not even close," Morris said. "Nothing I ever did in golf gives me the satisfaction or the thrill that one of these events brings. It's incredible. I get chills for 24 hours. It's an incredible high when you know how many people you help and see the way a community or a state jumps in to help. We think people from all over Arkansas are going to come to this event."

There will be around 50 assembly lines set up in the indoor track center. Packages will be sent out the door and packed into containers, then placed in 15 semi trailers and immediately shipped to Miami. They'll be in the tent cities in Haiti in five days from the time they were packaged. The meals contain rice, soy and vitamins. The distribution of the meals at the tent cities in Haiti will be supervised by the U.S. Military.

The volunteers will be asked to work two-hour shifts. They also need supervisor volunteers to work six-hour shifts to assure continuity.

UA athletic director Jeff Long said it was a no brainer when this project was presented to the student-athlete advisory committee (SAC) a few weeks ago. He said they wanted to volunteer and will work alongside staff and coaches at the event.

"Often when we see needs around the world it is difficult to determine how we can make a meaningful difference," Long said. "Razorback Relief: Operation Haiti gives us all a hands-on opportunity to make a life-changing impact on millions of people."

There is no admission charge, but volunteers are asked to bring a canned good that will go to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.

"We want to help people in Northwest Arkansas as well as Haiti," Long said. "This is a chance for our Razorback Nation to help millions."

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