NORMAN — Jay Fair took lots away from two days at Kevin Durant's basketball camp — lessons in dribbling and defense, loads of memories, not to mention some pictures with the Thunder superstar himself.
But he left something behind, too.
Eighty pairs of shoes.
The 8-year-old from Rowlett, Texas, wanted to do something to help Oklahomans who were impacted by tornadoes in May, so he collected kids shoes. He knew there would be kids like him who would need shoes for school.
“We got that covered,” Jay said with endearing optimism. “You can go ahead and check that off the list.”
More than two months after so many storms devastated our state, we might think outsiders have largely forgotten about the victims, the recovery, the hurt. A bright-eyed boy from suburban Dallas assures us that isn't the case.
The whole thing started about a month ago when Jay's mom, Christina Fair, was in the car with him and his 5-year-old sister, Cameryn. Both of the kids' birthdays are in August, so Christina asked them what they wanted to do for their birthdays.
Cameryn wanted a paint party.
Jay had something else in mind.
“I don't think I want to get gifts this year,” he said. “I think I want to collect shoes.”
Jay has two passions — sports and weather. He spends as much time watching videos of tornadoes on YouTube as videos of his favorite athletes.
He wants to be a storm chaser one day.
“Plan A, basketball player,” he clarified. “Plan B, storm chaser.”
So, when tornadoes raked across Oklahoma in May, Jay was engrossed. He soaked up the coverage like a sponge, and when news came that Durant was making a million-dollar donation to storm relief, Jay heard and started talking about doing something himself.
“But he wasn't sure what,” his dad, Jamie, said.
He finally hit on an idea — shoes.
And when his mom asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he realized there wasn't anything that he needed. He has a TV in his room. An Xbox. A Wii. A piano.
“I'm set,” he said.
What he wanted was to collect shoes for storm victims, kids to be exact.
“If this is something you want to do,” his mom told him that day in the car, “you're going to have to write a letter and explain to all our friends and family what's going on.”
So, he did.