Willie Jefferson may be in Regina, but his heart is in Beaumont, Texas.
The Roughriders defensive end was born and raised in Beaumont, located 150 kilometres east of Houston and right in the warpath of Hurricane Harvey.
“It hurts me to my heart, me not being there. Not being able to comfort my mom, comfort my girl, comfort my family like my nieces and nephews and stuff like that. It puts me at a real standstill,” he said.
Most of Jefferson’s hometown is underwater, but he takes some consolation in the fact that his family and loved ones are okay.
“None of my family members had to evacuate their homes,” Jefferson said on Wednesday. “My girl was fortunate enough to leave Houston before the storm came. My mom and dad are in Beaumont right now, but I keep in contact with them. They’re safe, they’re not in harm’s way.”
Jefferson said the water is close to their home, but not inside yet, adding from living in Texas their whole lives they’re used to some of this weather.
“Debris has been falling on the house, inside the house, stuff like that. It’s just typical stuff when you’re dealing with storm and hurricanes in Texas,” he explained. “Right now I’m worried but this isn’t the first time we had to go through something like this.”
Since he can’t be there, Jefferson is raising awareness on how to help Beaumont, as well as Houston where he lives in the off-season.
“That’s all I can really do,” he said. “I can’t go home and physically help because I’m out here doing my job.”
Jefferson will be filming a video to help encourage fans to donate to the Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He said there will be a big push for donations on the team’s fan day on Saturday as well.
He said it means a lot to him to be part of an organization that wants to help his home town and it helps him work through the stress to have teammates that care.
And that’s what Kevin Glenn said they all try to do.
“You try to be supportive, try to understand, listen when those guys are talking about this situation,” Glenn said.
“I’ve seen pictures from it and it’s sad. It’s sad to see that because I couldn’t imagine, like Willie, being away from your family or friends or loved ones and knowing something like that is going on,” he added.
Being away is hard, Jefferson admitted, but thankfully football allows him to focus on something else, at least for a little while.
“When hard times fall on you or your family you got to have something to lean on. I lean on my on my teammates and the game of football to take a little off of me,” he said.