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LeBlanc raising funds for hurricane relief

Lefty, former O's infielder Peterson leading charge to aid hometown Lake Charles
@JoeTrezz
September 2, 2020

When Hurricane Laura hit the Louisiana coast last week, its Category 4 classification and 150 mph winds made it the strongest storm to make landfall in the state. It ravished communities like Lake Charles, where Orioles of past and present call home. Now they are teaming up to help save

When Hurricane Laura hit the Louisiana coast last week, its Category 4 classification and 150 mph winds made it the strongest storm to make landfall in the state. It ravished communities like Lake Charles, where Orioles of past and present call home. Now they are teaming up to help save it.

Orioles starter Wade LeBlanc and former infielder Jace Peterson -- both Lake Charles natives -- have started a GoFundMe campaign to aid the city’s relief efforts in Laura’s wake. The pair set a goal of $100,000 to help families, small businesses, churches and schools in the city of about 80,000 situated between New Orleans and Houston. Some funds will also be earmarked to repair baseball facilities at McNeese State University, from where Peterson was drafted in 2011.

Those looking to donate can do so at the campaign's GoFundMe page.

“It’s for those who have taken the greatest hits,” LeBlanc told MLB.com. “It’s just devastating. It really is. The pictures don’t do it justice. You have no idea what it looks like until you really step foot in it.”

LeBlanc, 36, is a product of Lake Charles’ Alfred M. Barbe High School and a 12-year MLB veteran. He made six starts for Baltimore this season before being sidelined with a season-ending elbow injury. Peterson, 30, is a veteran utility man who played with the Orioles in 2018 and '19, and is currently on the Brewers’ active roster.

Keeping tabs on the storm from Baltimore last week, LeBlanc said it was like “watching a nightmare play out while you’re still awake.” He is now in the process of commuting daily from outside Houston to clear debris from his property. Nearly a week after the storm, thousands in the city are still without power and water. The rebuild could take months, if not years.

“It's so bad that everybody needs help, and hopefully we can get enough to where we can pass a little bit to everybody. That's kind of a dream,” LeBlanc said. “It’s a town where everybody kind of grows up together and where your roots grow really deep. It’s hard to leave. It’s a place where you feel like it’s home when you go back. And a lot of people we grew up with are taking some really, really big hits.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.