The Miami Heat has always been an organization focused on helping the local South Florida community and in the aftermath of destruction left behind by Hurricane Irma the franchise is stepping up yet again.
Thursday, the Heat announced owner Micky Arison, his company and his foundation were pledging up to $10 million in funding for relief and rebuilding efforts in Florida and throughout the Caribbean, where at least 68 people died because of the storm.
The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation will make an immediate donation of $2.5 million to Direct Relief, UNICEF and the United Way of Miami-Dade County. Then, the Carnival Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Carnival Corporation (where Arison is the chairman) – and the Heat’s Charitable Fund are each pledging to raise a $5 million in funding together.
Arison and his wife will then match that commitment up to a total of $5 million including the organization’s initial donation aimed at supporting the most immediate needs in Florida and the Caribbean.
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Carnival is also deploying 11 ships to provide affected ports in the region with crucial supplies including food, water, clothing, diapers, medical supplies and generators, among others.
“Hurricane Irma has devastated many families and cities that mean so much to us,” team president Pat Riley said in a statement released by the Heat. “As a long-time resident of South Florida, I have witnessed the resiliency of our communities; watching neighbors come together to overcome adversity. The South Florida community has supported our organization throughout the years, so it is only fitting that we are there to support and help uplift this community in its time of need.”
In addition to the finanical and food donations, the Heat is also getting involved with the Golden State Warriors as part of a pet rescue effort related to the storm.
On Friday, captain Udonis Haslem, coach Erik Spoelstra and several Heat staffers will assist in loading over 100 cats and dogs from Miami area shelters onto planes at Miami International Airport where they wil be sent to no-kill animal shelters in Oakland, Calif.
With many animals displaced from their owners or abandoned before the storm, the relocation of pre-storm animals will create space in the Miami animal shelters for new animals displaced after the storm. The FedEx MD-10 plan will arrive in Miami prior to the rescue airlift carrying more than $11 million worth of relief for victims of Hurricane Irma from Direct Relief International.
The animals will then be flown to Oakland Warriors players Zaza Pachulia and Jordan Bell, assistant coach Willie Green and other Warriors staffers will welcome them. The animals will then be delivered to no-kill shelters in the Oakland area where they will have the opportunity to be adopted by local families.