GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A former New Orleans Saints quarterback and his team are getting ready to head to several disaster zones to deliver relief supplies to tornado victims. On Monday, John Fourcade traveled across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi to pick-up donated items. One of his stops was a fire station in Gulfport.
"Thank y'all for doing it," John Fourcade told a group of Gulfport firefighters Monday.
"The man, the myth, the legend," one fireman told him as he shook his hand.
Fourcade is best known for his play on the football field. But these days, the former Ole Miss Rebels and Saints quarterback is leading a very different team.
"I hate to see things in a disaster. I was very fortunate playing professional football. I have the opportunity to give back and this is how I want to give back," he said.
Fourcade founded the "Fourcade Brigade" three years ago to deliver supplies to disaster areas like the East Coast, Oklahoma City and Waco, Texas. On Monday, he dropped by the Gulfport fire station on Cowan Road to pick-up donations for tornado victims in north Mississippi and Mayflower, Arkansas.
The firefighters helped load-up clothing, water, cleaning supplies, and 12-boxes of MREs that were donated by the 1108th AVCRAD in Gulfport.
"I think it's great, the reaction and the people that's giving is great," said Gulfport firefighter Tarick Fields.
He is a north Mississippi native and has family members living in some of the hardest hit areas.
"I actually have a sister located in Louisville and I also have another sister located in Tupelo, MS," he said. "It just hurts to go back home and see something like that."
While his sisters are okay, one of their cousins didn't make it. That cousin is daycare teacher Ruth Bennett who died trying to protect a four-year-old girl during an EF-4 tornado.
"That shows her true character as a daycare teacher. It lets me know she really did care about her kids. She wanted to put her life on the line for the child," he said.
The Fourcade Brigade will hit the road on Wednesday, to deliver relief to those who are hurting and struggling to start over.
"It's fantastic basically for a man that can sit back and do what he wants to do, to turn around and say OK, I've been in the spotlight more or less because of the profession I was in, now it's time for me to give back," said Coach Gerald Bryant, a long time friend of Fourcade.
"Appreciate it Gulfport, MS, for the donations!" Fourcade shouted as he drove away.
Fourcade also picked-up donations at the Biloxi fire station on Porter Avenue, two locations in Bay St. Louis, and a friend's house in Gulfport. He will make four more stops in Louisiana Tuesday.
"It's been rewarding to hear people. If you're on Facebook, my Tweet accounts, my email, it's been unbelievable," said Fourcade. "I got people donating financial aid from California, south Florida, Texas, they're from all over. It's not just Ole Miss, MS, where I went to school and played for the Saints. This is about people in need of help and I appreciate everybody who donated and contributed."
Since there are so many large items, his team will have to load-up two 36-foot trailers for the long trip. Fourcade says people have donated furniture, appliances, and pallets of groceries. Champion Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Gulfport also provided gas cards.