Tornado hits close to home for punter

May, 21, 2013
5/21/13
4:42
PM ET
The destruction and devastation left behind by the tornado that struck the state of Oklahoma on Monday hit especially close to home for Chicago Bears rookie punter Tress Way.

A native of Tulsa, Okla. and a four-year letter winner at the University of Oklahoma, Way praised community members for their willingness to assist those hit hardest by Monday's disaster.

"They're missing kids, there are families (missing)," Way said Tuesday following the Bears' organized team activity. "My fiancÚ, who is a softball player at the University of Oklahoma, the softball team started a charity where they're taking in shoes, and clothes and everything," Way said. "They're already donating. What's amazing is that in just a horrible natural disaster like that, God just can bless people by people helping out each other. You look outside and there would be a lot of times when people are running away from something that horrible, but in Norman, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, I've heard news reports that they actually had to keep people away from the accident and away from the disaster because people were wanting to help that much. So that makes my heart feel a little bit better.

"Obviously I'll be going home for Memorial Day weekend. Anything I can do whenever I get home, I'll be helping; just a heartbreaking thing. It's a natural disaster, not a whole lot you can do. But I'm really, really encouraged to see everybody that's willing to help."

Way said he received constant updates from family and friends on Monday.

"Well, you know a tornado struck in Moore, and Moore is about five minutes from my school in Norman, the University of Oklahoma," Way said. "The movie theater that was hit, that's where we all go see our movies. The biggest thing, I was in our rookie meeting yesterday and my phone just kept buzzing and obviously I wasn't checking it or anything but I was really eager to see what happened, because we had no idea. We had been here all day. I just started getting pictures, text-message pictures from people. I mean, my goodness, it's heartbreaking because it's five minutes down the road from us. ... I was just so heartbroken because, man, I just want to go home.

"There's not a whole lot that you can do. It's a natural disaster. It's a horrible thing. I texted all the guys from my team back home and I just said, ‘Fellas, get down there. Start pulling debris off.'"

Way is one of four ex-Oklahoma players on the Bears' offseason roster, along with wide receiver Demontre Hurst, offensive tackle Cory Brandon and tight end Brody Eldridge. Former Sooners standout and Bears' third round pick Dusty Dvoracek moved back to the Norman area following his playing career and now hosts a successful sports-talk radio show with fellow ex-Oklahoma star Teddy Lehman. Dvoracek reported on Monday that his family was safe after the tornado missed them by three miles, but that his brother's home was in the path of the storm.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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