By: Travis Gorsch, @tgorsch3
On Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, a fire broke out in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood at a warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. After the building was searched for several days, it was announced that 36 people had lost their lives in the fire, the deadliest in the history of Oakland. The Oakland community was devastated. However, it would soon be brought together by a city epitomizing what #OaklandStrong really means.
Newly appointed Oakland Athletics' President Dave Kaval was quick to offer his sympathy for all of those affected via Twitter the morning after the fire.
This was the beginning of what would be an astonishing effort by the local Oakland sports teams to take the lead in response to the disaster. A couple hours after Kaval's tweet, the Oakland Athletics launched a YouCaring page to raise funds for the victims and families affected by the Oakland fire. They also pledged their support to match donations up to $20,000.
The donations began to pour in from A's fans hoping to help support the cause. The A's would go on to hit the $20,000 mark just hours after the page launched. Before the end of the day, the A's would end up raising their pledge to $30,000. In addition, the Oakland Raiders joined forces with the team that they share the Coliseum with and announced they would also match donations up to $30,000.
The next day, due to the overwhelming generosity from the Oakland community and support from both A's and Raiders' fans, the two teams raised their pledges to $50,000.
The donations continued to pour in and showed no sign of stopping. Not only did the A's have the Raiders support, but the Golden State Warriors joined the efforts by pledging their support to match up to $50,000. With all three professional teams locked into the effort, they together had pledged to donate up to $150,000 to support the Oakland fire victims. It didn't stop there.
Led by Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston, Warriors' players and coaches released a short PSA-type video announcing they would be contributing an additional $75,000 to the cause.
As if that weren't enough. Two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry went a step further with the help of eBay to auction off his autographed game-worn shoes that honored the Oakland fire victims. The pair of Under Armour shoes drew over 150 bids and raised a total of $43,157 for the fire relief fund.
The relief efforts even saw corporate partners of the professional teams step up to the plate. For some, it was the right thing to do. For others that are headquartered in Oakland or nearby East Bay towns, this was their home and community that was affected. Contributions ranged from $25,000-$75,000 from the likes of Under Armour, Clorox, Kaiser Permanente, Ross Stores Foundation, Mechanics Bank, Sutter Health and more.
The outpouring of support extended beyond Oakland and came in droves from all over the Bay Area, including the A's Bay Bridge rival, the San Francisco Giants.
The San Jose Sharks even used their brand new 50/50 Raffle program to pledge their support for the cause. Donating the proceeds from the two games following the tragedy.
At the end of the day, when tragedy strikes, it doesn't matter what colors you wear or who you root for. We are all on the same team. Sport brings people together and that's why I personally love sports. The platform that athletes have to do good in the community and the support given to the communities of these professional teams was highlighted. This just shows what #OaklandStrong and #BayAreaUnite really mean.
As of Jan. 5, more than $552,000 has been raised via the YouCaring page by 3,617 donors. Social media has played an important role as the page was shared over 31,000 times across Twitter and Facebook. If you are interested in supporting the cause, you can visit the A's YouCaring page here: