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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Paradise High School athletes find solace in pro sports

People often question the validity of sports in our society; for Paradise athletes, sports was a way for them to escape the harsh reality of their situation. Many of these athletes have no place to play the sports they love and some don’t have homes to go back to.

#ButteStrong #PrayForParadise #ParadiseStrong, these were all trending on social media at one point and got the attention of a handful of local California based teams. These teams, and some of their players, took it upon themselves to donate money or even invite Paradise athletes to attend a game.

No athlete caught people’s attention during the crisis more than Green Bay Packers Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who was born and raised in Chico. Rodgers wore a “Butte Strong” hoodie before and after his Week 11 game against the Seattle Seahawks. He also took to Twitter and mentioned his intentions of donating a million dollars to help with Campfire relief efforts, as well as instructing others to retweet his tweet with #retweet4good. State Farm donated a dollar for every retweet of Rodgers’ post up to Nov. 25.

The San Francisco 49ers donated $100,000 for fire-relief efforts, as well as raising an added $15,000 from auctioning six worn player jerseys. On top of it all, 60 members of Paradise High’s football team, coaching staff and cheerleaders were hosted by the 49ers at their Monday night game, on Nov. 12, against the New York Giants.

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Ahkello Witherspoon (23) and Richie James Jr. (13) of the San Francisco 49ers welcome the Paradise football team to their game against the New York Giants. Image from Getty Images, photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers.

The Golden State Warriors also welcomed the Paradise High School girls and boys basketball teams on Nov. 21, a home game against Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena. The Warriors similarly auctioned off six player worn jerseys, as well as launching a CrowdRise site to help raise relief effort funds, and pledged to match all donations up to $25,000.

The Sacramento Kings are the latest to host Paradise athletes. They welcomed Paradise’s basketball teams to their home game on Nov. 25 against the Utah Jazz. The Kings also raised $75,000 for American Red Cross California Wildfires relief efforts.

The Oakland Raiders have also stepped in and donated $200,000 to fire relief and recovery, as well as an additional $50,000 worth of supplies like gift cards, non-perishable food, shoes and new clothes.

“As a Chico alumnus, the Paradise Camp Fire struck very close to me,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a news release.

The San Francisco Giants donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross and the North Valley Community Foundation, through their community fund.

The Oakland Athletics pledged $10,000 to fire relief and set up a GoFundMe page open to more donations. The A’s will also host Paradise Little League at Youth Baseball and Softball Day on March 31, as well as donate equipment to Paradise Little League.

The San Jose Sharks, San Jose Earthquakes and California Golden Bears have all stepped up and made donations of their own as well.

Unfortunately, because of the Camp Fire, many Paradise Students are without a place to play or practice. Chico State donated the use of Acker Gymnasium for Monday’s season opener against Chico High School. Both teams had been practicing at Chico High.

All proceeds went to the Paradise High Athletic Program. As many of the athletes lost their homes in the Camp Fire, and all, but one girl on the Paradise girl’s roster, lost their homes.

Sports are bringing the community together and is distracting from the harsh realities they are facing. With the deadliest fire in California history still lingering in the air, it will continue to affect these athletes for their entire lives. It’s uplifting to see sports bring people together and help get them past the hardest of times.

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] or @rtovarg13 on Twitter.

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