Barbecue helps those dealing with painful memories

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group from Operation Barbecue Relief returned home after 12 days away in Oklahoma.

“Went  home grabbed some clothes and stuff, packed up my trailer, headed over here packed up and we were on the road at 4.30 in the morning, so in less than 12 hours we were on the road,” described Will Cleaver, the co-founder of the charity group.

When they arrived in Oklahoma they set up their truck and smoker in the center of the devastation, close to where Moore High School once stood.

Once you see the devastation…the cameras only show so much but when you’re actually driving through and see what it’s done to houses you start to realize the power of it,” said Cleaver.

Hays and Cleaver say the whole experience reminded them of the destruction in Joplin, which is how Operation Barbecue Relief began.

Two years later in Moore, their mission was the same- to serve barbecue to a community turned upside down.

“Who here has gone to a bad barbecue? It’s still fun even if they burn the hamburgers right? You don’t go there because it’s not going to be a fun time and we try to bring a little normalcy to their life by having a pulled pork sandwich and talking to the people next to them to see they’re not alone,” said Stan Hays, also a co-founder.

The crew served 143,000 meals and met many people they’ll never forget.

“When you make good friends you say I hope to see you soon, and our joke is we hope we never see you again,” he said.

This team hopes disaster doesn’t strike again, but if it does, they’ll be ready with a truck full of barbecue.

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