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Cowboying Up: Boynton Sees ‘Opportunity and the Means’ to Give After Houston Flooding

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STILLWATER — Mike Boynton said one thing keeps striking him about the devastating floods in Houston after Hurricane Harvey dumped close to 50 inches of rain.

A man named Jeremiah and his 6-year-old son, Jeremiah Jr. Here is a video of the father and son walking the streets of Houston after being displaced from their home.

Together alone. But together.

Boynton said that video has hit him with the emotion, reality and impact that a storm of this magnitude can have on anyone.

“Guy is literally taking his son with a bag on his back and hoping that things work out eventually. Somehow,” Boynton told Pistols Firing on Tuesday. “Anytime things like this happen, it’s an opportunity for us to kind of get outside of ourselves, get away from all the other things that distract us from what’s really important in life.”

University of Houston men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson was trying to find a way for people to help after friends, family and the basketball community lent their contributions.

He found that way by calling for 20 team shirts and 10 pairs of shoes from schools all over the country to be sent to the University of Houston for distribution to folks like Jeremiah who had lost all of their clothing.

What happened after was breathtaking. Major media outlets like ESPN and NBC Sports picked it up. High school teams, Division I, II and III teams; graduate programs, even AAU squads started pouring out their support. Literally hundreds of tweets, filled with boxes of shirts, shorts, shoes and spirit, were directed Sampson’s way.

Oklahoma State was no different. Monday night, Boynton called for fans to bring anything they didn’t need to Gallagher-Iba Arena. Then he tweeted it out again Tuesday morning, and by about 1 p.m., Boynton was carrying in boxes twice his width and placing them alongside the others.

“I just saw an opportunity to help other people, obviously seeing a lot of the devastating photos and talking to some friends that I have back in the south Texas area as well as Louisiana. I wanted to try and figure out a way to contribute.”

People responded. The bags and boxes are piling up under Pete in GIA.

Boynton said he doesn’t have a strong relationship with coach Sampson at Houston, but that didn’t matter. It was more about giving back, he said.

“It could be any of us that go through a devastating situation like that,” he said. “And certainly if we have the opportunity and the means to give, to help those people just feel a little bit better … it’s something that we wanted to make happen.”

Since Boynton’s first day as coach of the Cowboys, family has been No. 1. When he was introduced, he intermittently looked over at his wife and young children. He cried when he talked about them. So when he saw and heard about Houston, family is where he went.

“I got a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old child, and to think about the images of people taking their babies away with nothing,” Boynton said. “Those things are really real to me.”

That mantra matriculates itself through to his players, he said. When Boynton was hired, athletic director Mike Holder said his new guy preached “leadership and family,” according to The Oklahoman

This is a chance at both. Boynton said the team will talk about it at practice Tuesday and make sure the guys understand the gravity of the situation. He said you never know when the next phone call could be coming for you.

“I want our guys to understand that these storms, these situations, don’t have names or identities,” he said. “They come in, and no matter what age or race, religion, background, rich, poor, everyone is affected the same.

“This is really what it’s all about. The community is very intimate, very close. When there’s an opportunity to help someone who you know really well, even people you don’t know if you can, is certainly something that I feel very passionate about.”

Apparently, so many others are passionate about it, too, like the woman who waved down a life boat to save a man, or the boatman who was ready to “save some lives.”

With videos like these that have surfaced since the terrible events in Houston, Boynton said he is encouraged to see so many wholesome people in a world that, while he said it is a little “overplayed,” seems so divided.

“The hearts of people are shown during moments like this,” Boynton said. “There are really good people in this world. We’re all very compassionate about helping each other and doing the best we can to make one another’s lives as comforting as possible.”

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