A closer look

Organizations and celebrities contribute to relief efforts in wake of Nashville tornadoes

More stories from Ta'Leah Van Sistine

Life in the city
December 8, 2021

The Arnold Sports Festival, which is the largest multi-sport festival in the nation and is named after actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, cancelled its expo this past weekend amid growing coronavirus fears, according to CNN

Taking place annually in Columbus, Ohio, the festival welcomes more than 22,000 athletes who compete in more than 80 sports and events

However, due to an Ohio state order, sports in the festival continued as scheduled. The spectators, who were not parents or guardians of minors competing in youth sports, could not attend the events because of the coronavirus.

About 200,000 people typically attend the Arnold Sports Festival every year, so the cancellation left behind enough food to accomodate for that number, but no one to eat it. 

Instead of throwing the food away, the festival decided to send the meals to victims of the tornadoes passing through Nashville, Tenn. on March 3. 

“We wanted something positive to happen to the food that could not be repurposed,” said Molly Dale, general manager for Levy, the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s food service provider, in a statement.

According to CNN, a refrigerated truck left the Greater Columbus Convention Center last Friday and was scheduled to arrive the next day to feed first responders and others. 

The tornadoes that passed through Nashville left at least 25 people dead.

“Upended cars, massive uprooted trees and splintered remains of homes littered the streets,” New York Times reporters Richard Fausset and Rick Rojas said in an article

Many celebrities have since contributed to relief efforts in Nashville, with Taylor Swift donating $1 million to the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund.

“Nashville is my home and the fact that so many people have lost their homes and so much more in Middle Tennessee is devastating to me,” Swift wrote in her Instagram story on March 5.

Country music stars such as Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of the group Lady Antebellum also led a telethon on the same day that netted almost $400,000 for victims of the tornadoes. 

Dan + Shay, the popular country duo, said they too will give their proceeds from their tour kickoff this past weekend in Nashville to relief efforts. 

Dan Smyers of Dan + Shay said in a Facebook post that he was struggling to comprehend what happened in Nashville and recognize the places he and his wife Abby Law Smyers used to go to were destroyed by the tornadoes.

“The day after it happened, I struggled to process the fact that lives were lost, and many of the places that @abbysmyers and I frequented, no longer existed,” Smyers said. “I distracted myself deep in a 16-hour tour rehearsal, pretending like nothing was wrong, but today it became real, and knew we needed to help.”

Kim Hawkins, a founding principal of an architecture firm in Nashville that was damaged by the recent tornadoes, said the city quickly worked to begin the clean up process.

“While it was probably the longest and most difficult day of my life, it was also probably the most remarkable,” Hawkins said. “The generosity of this community is unfathomable.”

Van Sistine can be reached at [email protected].