Dennis Godfrey Organizes Sanford Relief Drive
April 20, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - When tragedy strikes, many people are not moved to action unless they can personally identify with the victims. With the tragic series of tornadoes that ripped apart portions of North Carolina on April 16, most of the victims were nameless people in other parts of the state.
But to those that follow Wake Forest football, that tragedy now has a face.
The rising senior offensive tackle is a native of Sanford, a graduate of Lee County High School, and a returning starter on Wake Forest's offensive line. Godfrey and his teammates were on the field at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem on Saturday for the Demon Deacons' annual spring game. Godfrey's family drove from Sanford for the scrimmage which was delayed for nearly an hour when the storm passed through Winston-Salem.
Godfrey and his family had gone out to dinner following the scrimmage when his sister, Jackie Cameron, received a phone call saying Sanford had been hit by a tornado, a storm later categorized as an F-3.
"The first thing that came to my mind was my grandfather," said Godfrey. "I just got off the phone with him after the scrimmage. I kept calling his house, calling his house. Finally he answered the phone. I asked him if he knew about the tornado that hit Sanford. And he didn't know about it."
Godfrey's family was not totally unaffected by the tornado. Dennis' cousin, Jeff Petty, lost his house and Petty's mother broke both of her legs. Many friends of the Godfrey family lost their homes and all of their possessions.
Godfrey's sister's place of business, where she would have been on Saturday afternoon if not for the Wake Forest scrimmage, was in the path of destruction.
As a proud native of Sanford, Godfrey has helped mobilize the Wake Forest campus to collect food and clothing items to donate to the tornado victims. Items can be donated at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 21 on the Wake Forest campus. The collection point will be on Hearn Plaza, in front of Wait Chapel. Godfrey and friends will drive the items to Sanford on Friday.
The drive will be collecting canned goods, clothing, bottled water and toiletry items to be given to the victims in Sanford.
"It really hit home because you just don't think something like that could happen in Sanford. But I'm not doing it just for Sanford, but also for the other 26 counties that got hit hard," said Godfrey.
"I've been a member of the Boys and Girls Club since I was five years old," Godfrey said. "That gave me the tools to help organize something like this. We were always collecting canned goods to give to people. But this, for me, this is something that really hit home. You don't expect something like this to happen in Sanford. If my family wasn't up here when they were . . . Sanford isn't a huge place. Nobody knew where Sanford was until this."
Godfrey's high school football coach, Jody Stouffer, said the destruction in Sanford was hard to describe.
"It's unbelievable," said Stouffer. "The (destruction of) Lowe's is getting lots of attention but the entire area was hit. I spent the day (Monday) with teachers who lost everything they owned. It's just indescribable. I've never seen anything to compare it to."
Godfrey is thankful that Wake Forest offered him the opportunity to play football and the exposure that it afforded the Deacons in Sanford.
"Being here and having the opportunity to play football has really been a positive thing in Sanford," said Godfrey. "There was never any Wake Forest gear (to purchase) in Sanford, it's all been Carolina, State or Duke. But since I've been here, it's opened doors at home. Kids are constantly asking how I'm doing and telling me that they want to come to school here. Some of those kids are homeless now.
"I had some hard times growing up in Sanford. They've always been there, supporting me. I feel like this is my opportunity to give back to my community and wherever I go, Sanford will always be a part of me."