Heat president Pat Riley on trip to bring relief to Florida Keys: ‘We couldn’t believe what we were seeing’

Heat President Pat Riley on a shopping spree last week at the Miami Shores Publix . (Photo Rise Miami News)

Pat Riley’s shopping spree at a Miami Shores Publix a week ago was not his only involvement in Hurricane Irma relief.

Riley, Steve Stowe, who heads the Heat’s charitable fund, and equipment manager Rob Pimental were part of a convoy to the Florida Keys last week to assist with relief. The group was gone more than 20 hours, making stops near Sugarloaf Key and Big Pine Key, two of the hardest hit areas from Irma.

“It was heart rendering to go out to these places and see these people,” Riley said today after the Heat unveiled Ultimate Software as their uniform patch sponsor.

“You don’t realize it until you get out there and see what was going on, especially going down there. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.”

And Riley is not through helping the state recover from the powerful storm. He announced today that through the Pat and Chris Riley Family foundation he is pledging $1 million to Irma relief. This is in addition to the $10 million pledged through the Heat Charitable Fund, Carnival Corporation and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation

Additionally, the Heat are encouraging fans to log onto youcaring.com/heat to donate.  The organization will match all funds raised.

Last week Riley was photographed pushing a shopping cart he was filling with items to purchase for storm victims. He made stops around the city to El Portal,  Miami Shores, Overtown and Little Haiti where he would hand out items before return to Publix for another load, and head to another part of the city.

Prior to his shopping spree, Riley awoke one morning thinking he was just going to be buying food to be put on trucks and shipped to the Keys when he became a part of the recovery effort. Riley, Stowe and Pimental jumped in a van and followed three semi-trailer trucks that were loaded with relief items.

“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” he said. “I was just going out to get some water and rice and beans and spam and then it just ended up. Just was part of the spirit.

“I went in and became part of what everybody else was doing,” he said. “Most of them were first responders.”

Since, Riley has been paying close attention to the recovery efforts in the  Keys.
“What I saw was beyond what I thought,” he said. “These were certain areas that needed a little bit more help initially.

“Now to listening to the mayor (of Key West) and listening to people from Key West, they are so resilient saying we are going to have this done in three or four months and they got so much more to put together.”

Riley updated the damage that was done to the outer membrane of the Heat’s practice facility. He said the roof started leaking in several spots but a team of Heat employees who stayed at AmericanAirlines Arena during the storm scrambled to find trash cans to spread around the practice floor to catch the water.

“They saved the court,” Riley said, adding that if they had not acted the floor would have needed repairs, which would have taken some time.
Although the Heat start camp Tuesday, they will be training at Florida Atlantic University on Boca Raton for five days.

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