MCALESTER, Okla. - After the devastating rig explosion near Quinton Monday, people nationwide have been trying to figure out what they can do to help, and one Green Country hospital found a way.
“There’s five people that are still missing from the explosion, we will identify those at this time,” read an official from a podium in Quinton on Monday.
Sitting at the edge of our seats, hearts already broken, we learned about the five men, the five families broken in an instant.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families,” the official continued.
Watching the fire overpower the rig, all many people knew they could do was pray.
“If not us than who?”
But Dr. Jason McElyea knew he could do more.
“I didn’t want them to have to worry about what happens tomorrow?” he said.
A board member for the McAlester Regional Health Center Foundation, he made a phone call.
“We wanted to be able to show that we’re supporting these families as a whole,” said foundation director Ryan Gathard.
They setup a GoFundMe with a goal of $10, 000, smashing it in 24 hours.
“That’s how our community is. When there’s a need everyone steps up,” Gathard said.
The foundation is also selling t-shirts, surpassing its goal of a thousand, already raising money from fourteen hundred shirts.
While the hospital takes care of patients twenty-four hours a day, it refuses to forget that part of its name is “regional,” using this opportunity to care for people beyond its walls.
“These 5 families woke up different than they went to bed the day before,” said Dr. McElyea.
But one family in particular is closer to their hearts.
McAlester is the hometown of the 29-year-old victim Matt Smith.
“To go to bed married and wake up a widow. That’s hard, that hurts.”
McElyea worked with his wife.
“She was all heart and that was all I could think of is what would she do.”
The foundation is now increasing its goal hoping in the coming weeks the amount divided by five is enough to maybe begin to heal the wounds of the families now in everyone’s hearts.
The foundation’s director said at the moment they’re giving the families their privacy, but in the coming weeks they’ll reach out to them or the victims’ employers to find the best way to send the money.