Idalia strengthened off Florida’s Gulf Coast to a Category 4 storm before making landfall in the Big Bend region. Idalia’s storm surge brought flooding that many Shore Acres residents said they’d never seen before—two feet or more in some homes. The next day, up and down the streets, piles of water-damaged chairs, sofas, carpets and flooring slouched along the curbs. Two days after the storm passed, Rev.
Douglas McMahon Jr., director of religious life and chaplain at Eckerd College, received word from The Gathering Church in Shore Acres that volunteers were needed to help with the cleanup effort. McMahon relayed the message to Athletic Director Tom Ryan ’87 because of Eckerd athletes’ past assistance to community members in need.
Ryan in turn contacted his coaches. The response was almost immediate. Eighteen members of the Eckerd College softball and men’s basketball teams would be there the next day—Saturday morning—to do whatever was needed to help. “I think if you put the word out to everybody on campus, the response would have been the same,” Ryan says.
“The Eckerd way puts a major emphasis on service.”