Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced Saturday a $1 million donation to the Dallas Independent School District to help rebuild the Thomas Jefferson High School football field after a tornado tore through the city last week.
The announcement was made during a ceremony before Thomas Jefferson’s homecoming football game against Spruce High School.
“Without a doubt, the foundation of sports at the professional level where the Dallas Cowboys play, the foundation is right here on this field,” said Jones. “It’s here with our amateur sports and it’s here with our youth.”
The donation will be made by the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation and the NFL Foundation.
NFL Hall of Famer and Cowboys legend Charles Haley, as well as mascot Rowdy, made an appearance at the ceremony.
Sandi Massey, principal of Thomas Jefferson High School, told CNN the entire $1 million gift will go directly to the school, which was severely damaged during the tornado. Specifically, it will help rebuild the football field and replace football equipment.
At least nine tornadoes tore through northern Texas last week, causing an estimated $2 billion in damages, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.
Besides the high school, many homes were also destroyed, leaving students and their families displaced.
The school’s priority now is “loving the students” through the ordeal, Massey said. The school on Friday brought in a “social-emotional learning team” to assist the students through this difficult time.
Massey said she’s particularly concerned for students who are immigrants. “It’s really hard to navigate a new culture, a new language, a new identity, in a normal school,” she said. “So, to have something like this happen, it could be super overwhelming.”
The campus has been relocated to a nearby learning center until the school is repaired. The earliest students and staff could return to the building would be in August 2020, Massey said.
Massey said staff and students are looking forward to the new football field.
“Everyone is so excited, the athletic department especially,” said Massey. “They’re the most excited because they’re so invested in the school, in their programs, in their future. They’re not willing to give up.”
After the donation was announced, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban added to the school’s excitement on Saturday.
After donating $100,000 to the Dallas Education Foundation, he said he would match Jones’ $1 million donation to the school.
“Well done Jerry!!! I’ll match your generosity!” Cuban tweeted.
The moment today Jerry Jones announced a $1 million donation from the @dallascowboys and @NFLFoundation to #DallasISD to help TJ recover from Sunday's tornado. #TJStrong #DallasISDStrong pic.twitter.com/YZftZdFeXo
— Dallas ISD (@dallasschools) October 26, 2019