“And now they’re going to be asked to come to the dinner and make it possible for us to have the means to continue these efforts that are going to continue for a long time.”
What’s ironic is that Atlas, who had gone for decades without going on vacation, was actually out on a Caribbean cruise with his wife, celebrating their 30th anniversary from October 20th to the 29th. According to Atlas, the cruise was shortened because of the impending hurricane.
“The problem was, by the time we got back, we were ahead of the storm but the ports wouldn’t allow us in with everything going on. So we had to go back out and then we went back out. That’s when there were problems. We were caught in 40-foot waves. We were OK because the ships like that could handle it. I mean, obviously, it scared a lot of people. The ride was a little bumpy to say the least. This great 30th anniversary cruise wasn’t as smooth as was expected to be.”
Eventually the ship was diverted to Boston and their arrival was delayed. According to Atlas, “Wednesday became Friday” but as they touched down in Beantown, the Atlases rented a car and drove back to Staten Island where he has lived his whole life. “We came home to no power just like everybody else and we came home to a devastated area. But we are blessed; we were very fortunate. We had minimal damage besides being without power, which is nothing compared to what some of the people suffered.”
As he got settled in, Atlas immediately got started on the recovery process.
“Since then, the foundation has set up a relief center where we’ve been getting goods, clothes, food and water. Now it’s changed; we’re getting cleaning products, garbage bags, gloves, things to dig out from under and the foundation has been getting those things out to these affected areas on Staten Island, also in the Rockaways, also in Breezy Point across the bridge. Because not only were they hit bad, they didn’t seem to get quite as much relief immediately as some of the other areas. So we’ve been doing that.”
Atlas really didn’t have much time to talk. During this period, he got a bit of a respite as he was waiting for another delivery of supplies.
“Look, as bad as things are, you also have a moment where people become their best too,” he pointed out. “And we’re seeing that; we’re seeing an extraordinary amount of generosity and giving. People that are calling the foundation everyday and they’re just jumping in trucks from like Delaware, a truck from Connecticut, had a truck from Philadelphia. We’re waiting for a truck right now, actually, as we talk, from Pelham, New York. They’re just bringing goods, bringing it to the foundation and then we distribute it. They bring volunteers with them; they unload the trucks. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we went directly into the areas that were affected and went door-to-door bringing stuff. But now, it’s gotten to the point where some of these areas are saturated with help with the goodness of people coming forward bringing clothes in and everything. We’re bringing into drop centers now,” said Atlas, who says their efforts would be hampered by another storm that was expected to arrive the next day or two. A hot dog stand and a mac-and-cheese truck were being brought in by the foundation.
Comfort food never sounded or tasted so good.
The cocktail reception takes place from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by dinner from 8-11 p.m. As usual, there will be a host of celebrities (many from the world of sports like Richard “Goose” Gossage, Sterling Sharpe and John Starks) and a live silent auction will take place.
Fan tables go for as low as $200.