PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Brother’s Brother Foundation collected more than 400 pounds of supplies for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico last year.READ MORE: High School Spring Sports Kick Off After Being Canceled Last Year During Pandemic's Start
The man they call the “unsung hero” of the effort came to Pittsburgh to tell everyone how it’s going.
Raul Rodriguez, owner of a Puerto Rican trucking company, couldn’t say “thank you” enough.
“We have to thank you, we have to thank the Pittsburgh Pirates and the City of Pittsburgh,” he said. “Because that was like an angel coming into Puerto Rico.”
But a lot of people would say he’s the real angel.
After Hurricane Maria, the Pirates and their Puerto Rican players collected more than 400 pounds of relief supplies. Brother’s Brother Foundation got food, water and more than 1 million pounds of medical supplies. But how would donations actually get to the people?READ MORE: Pittsburgh-Area Caregivers Asking Lawmakers To Increase Minimum Wage End 48-Hour Fast
In stepped Rodriguez, who, in addition to owning a trucking distribution company, is also the president of a top baseball team in the Puerto Rican winter league.
“We had to have someone who had the power and the interest and integrity to receive our items and work with other organizations — there were health systems and insurance systems and others — to distribute these items,” Luke Hingson, with the Brother’s Brother Foundation, said.
“The Pirates were [like] the Marines going in and because of Raul and his team, they opened it up,” Ron Alverado, of the Pittsburgh Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said.
Rodriguez says when the Pittsburgh supplies started arriving Puerto Rico, people were desperate. There was no water, no food, no medicine, no generators.
“We had no light, we had no television, we had no radio. We had nothing. We were just black out,” Rodriguez said.
The group says supplies donated by Pittsburghers and distributed by Rodriguez’s company saved thousands of lives, and the Pittsburgh outpouring is no surprise.MORE NEWS: Westmoreland County Leaders Say They're Getting Less Vaccine Than Smaller Counties
“Even though it was tough, we learned about who we really are regarding how we can get together and help each other,” Rodriguez said.