Kentucky donates at least $500,000 to Superstorm Sandy efforts

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Head coach John Calipari issued the call to Kentucky fans in the quest to raise funds for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, and the people responded.

The Kentucky program held a telethon on Wednesday night and to say the least it was a productive affair, as more than $500,000 were raised during the event.

And when considering the fact that Papa John’s founder John Schnatter pledged $1 from every pizza ordered on Wednesday (he estimated that an additional $400,000 would be raised), the final tally could very well approach seven figures.

“When you consider the money raised on the phones, on-line, through the auction, and with Papa John’s contributions we hope to surpass $1 million,” Terry Burkhart, CEO of the Bluegrass Region of the American Red Cross, said in a release.

Players were among those in the WKYT studio taking phone calls from people eager to donate to a worthy cause.

The position of head coach at the major college level, especially for a program like Kentucky, offers a platform that can do a lot of good when it comes to charitable causes and Calipari has taken advantage of that.

A couple of years ago it was “Hoops for Haiti” and this year the Wildcats will be able to take a large check with them to the New York metropolitan area, where they take on Maryland tomorrow night at the new Barclays Center.

“It’s the position I hold, it’s not me,” noted Calipari in the video below. “And when you’re the head coach at Kentucky and you’re the head coach of basketball, you have an ability to move people within the state, and fans throughout the country that are the ‘Big Blue Nation.’

“Rallying them, and keeping them involved and active is part of what your job is.”

The passion of the Kentucky fan base has been well-documented throughout the years, and the passion for their team has paid dividends when it comes to charity as well.

It’s been over a week since Sandy hit the Northeast and with a nor’eastern rolling in last night there’s now storm to deal with, and some areas are still without power. And for those who would like to contribute to the relief efforts, the American Red Cross is accepting donations.

h/t CBS Sports

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.