SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — It came in one moment Wednesday, Nov. 15, when Luz Cortes hugged her son, Raymond Cintron, and the reason for the Raider Relief project was clear.
“That moment was when we realized what we did — all the fundraising, the donations, the flight here — was helping Raymond’s family survive,” said Darrell Freeman, vice chairman of Middle Tennessee State University’s Board of Trustees and an MTSU alumnus.
“And they were so very happy, so very grateful, for our True Blue family.”
Raider Relief, launched earlier this month by Freeman, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis, raised money and supplies for Cintron’s family.
The star guard for the Blue Raiders for the 2011-13 seasons has been displaced to the Orlando area in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that devastated Puerto Rico in September.
His family remains on the island, and they were in dire need of medicine, food and generators. All of those items were stuffed into Freeman’s aircraft for the trip.
With the help of the Puerto Rico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, MTSU’s Department of Aerospace partner, Cintron’s family got the aid they desperately needed. Freeman flew Cintron, McPhee and university pilot Terry Dorris, who served as co-pilot, on the seven-hour journey.
“It means everything to me,” Cintron said. “This is something very, very special. This will remain in our hearts for the rest of our lives.”
The MTSU group flew back to Murfreesboro Nov. 16. McPhee credited the Civil Air Patrol volunteers — the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force — for making the final stages of Raider Relief possible.
“Our CAP partners overcame an islandwide power outage to assemble here, with volunteers and trucks, and get this aid to Raymond’s family,” McPhee said. “Without Trustee Freeman’s plane and the Civil Air Patrol, none of this would have happened.”
Col. Carlos Fernandez, commander of CAP’s Puerto Rico Wing, said his volunteers were happy to assist with Raider Relief.
“We’re in the business of helping people,” he said. “This is what we do.”
— Andrew Oppmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)