If there's anything that can light the way in times of darkness and tragedy, it's the power and strength of people bonding together. For Bills offensive linemen Spencer Long and Jeremiah Sirles, the desire to help those affected by the catastrophic flooding in their native Nebraska and several other states in the Midwest, is deeper than wanting to do a good deed – it's in their DNA.
In fact, when the disaster struck this week, Long and Sirles didn't think twice about lending a hand. That's just what you do when you're from Nebraska. Rallying to offer their support, the former Cornhuskers, are hosting a dinner tonight, Thursday, March 21, for flood victims, first responders, volunteers and anyone displaced at the Oak Ballroom in Schuyler, Nebraska. Located in Colfax County, Schuyler and surrounding areas have suffered damage on a devastating level.
"We came together earlier this week and after seeing all the destruction and damage, we were just like 'We need to do something' and [so we] reached out to some of our contacts and were trying to brainstorm ideas," explained Long whose hometown, Elkhorn, Nebraska, was greatly affected. "One of our friends, Saul Soltero, who's been involved in the government out in Colfax County, had some connections and was able to whip up something really special – a little dinner for everybody around that area. That's been one of the worst areas in the state. Really, we're just catering some food for first responders and families, trying to open up dialogue, and at the very least, just provide a place for people to take their mind off things or share stories…"
Like Long, Sirles took to Twitter to spread a hopeful message and to encourage other Nebraskans to get involved by using the hashtag #NebraskaStrong.
"It's our home state and...this feels good to be able to take care of our own a little bit," said Sirles.
While the hometown heroes both know individuals who have been personally impacted by the historic floods, they echoed each other's selfless sentiments, explaining that they would have helped regardless.
"…It's not uncharacteristic in Nebraska," explained Long. "People are pretty good to each other around here. I'll give you another example of when I was in high school. When I was a senior in high school, we had some bad weather and some twisters come through and touch down over my house. We lost a bunch of giant trees and had some damage to our house. It completely changed the landscape and two days later our neighbors were in our backyard with giant equipment that we didn't have – cutting down trees, picking them up, cleaning up our driveway so that we could [get] into our house and…get our lives back on track. That's another example of how people are to each other out here."
"One of my good buddies that I went to college with…sent me a Snapchat and was like 'Well, this is where my house used to be' and his house was just gone," said Sirles. "The water took it away. I know people that can't get out of their towns because roads are still closed and…they've lost over half a million cattle. It's been bad. It's just been tough. It's just tough for those guys. These farmers said they think it's going to be over one billion dollars in farming loss for families just because land is just gone. The water literally came and took it. So, yeah, we're giving back on that a little bit and it feels good to be able to give back to something that's close to you."
As Nebraska residents continue to seek relief, Long and Sirles will utilize their platforms to assist in any way they can.