Support for Northwestern freshman garners national attention

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Support for Northwestern freshman garners national attention

 Jake Spradling being interviewed by NBC News correspondent Ron Mott
NBC News correspondent Ron Mott interviews Northwestern freshman Jake Spradling in the Ranger football locker room for an upcoming story on high school seniors making the transition to college following the devastating tornado in Moore on May 20. Spradling’s family home was destroyed that day.

When a tornado ravaged Moore on May 20, Jake Spradling and his family may have lost their home and possessions…but they found a new family.

At the time, Spradling was a senior at Southmoore High School, preparing for his high school graduation, ready to begin a new chapter of his life as a freshman at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and as a new member of the Ranger football program.

Despite the fact it would be three months before Spradling would meet his teammates at Northwestern, two of them, sophomores Austin Maly of Prague and James Pitts of Morrison, showed up at the site of Spradling’s home in Moore, ready to do whatever they could. Northwestern coaches were there, too, bringing the most basic of supplies.

This would be the start of a summer-long university and community effort to help Spradling and his family. The caring, generosity and support shown by strangers caught the attention of Dan Shepherd, a producer for the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Monday, Shepherd, correspondent Ron Mott, and a production crew from NBC arrived at Northwestern to interview Spradling and his helpful teammates.

Shepherd said Spradling’s experience will be part of a larger story concerning high school seniors affected by the tornado who are now making the transition to college life. The story is expected to air on NBC Nightly News.

Three local businesses, Share Medical Center, Chesapeake Energy and SandRidge Energy, all held employee fundraisers to collect donations of clothes, household goods and money for the Spradling family. Northwestern also held a drive to provide relief and a large number of employees, students and community residents provided truckloads of supplies and money.

The Spradling family summed up their appreciation in a letter to the Alva Review-Courier.

“We are truly blessed that God introduced us to such a wonderful community and group of people,” the letter said. “We are a family that believes that everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for us, and it includes Alva and NWOSU.”

 Austin Maley and James Pitts talking to NBC News correspondent Ron Mott
Northwestern sophomores Austin Maly and James Pitts explain to NBC News correspondent Ron Mott their reasons behind helping a football teammate they had never met upon hearing his family’s home had been destroyed by the May tornado in Moore. They explained Jake Spradling became family the day he signed to play for the Rangers, and they went to help to represent Northwestern.

 Jake Spradling  lifting weights for NBC News crew

Northwestern freshman Jake Spradling lifts weights as the NBC Nightly News crew shoots footage for the upcoming news story.