Within a matter of minutes Tuesday morning, Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and his sons Deion Sanders Jr., 23, and Shedeur Sanders, 15, gathered $9,991.64 worth of merchandise on flatbed carts at Sam’s Club in Tyler.
Their carts were filled with daily necessities such as soap, deodorant, paper towels, water, detergent and more. A few boxes of honey buns were even added to the mix.
But the family didn’t make the shopping trip for themselves.
As part of a two-minute shopping spree challenge - which featured a few time extensions - issued by RetailMeNot, Deion gathered items that will be donated to The Salvation Army to provide relief to victims of the tornadoes that struck Van Zandt County on April 29.
The tragedy hit very close to home for Deion, who owns property in Canton and travels to the town frequently.
“It barely missed us,” Deion said. “We understood that there is a need, and we’re blessed enough to meet the need so why not.”
Katie Hammill, public relations manager at RetailMeNot, said the idea for Deion to participate in the challenge - which allowed him to collect up to $10,000 worth of merchandise - came about last month after he expressed his passion for helping the Canton community. She said the goal for the day was to help as many people as possible.
“I think it will help not only other athletes to be inspired (to help), but the local community as well,” she said.
In preparation for the challenge, Deion mapped out the store on Monday to locate some of the items victims of the tornado would need the most.
Once it began, Deion said he and his sons - along with a few other helping hands - faced several challenges but were able to grab a lot of important items.
“The game plan was executed,” Deion said. “We had a couple of turnovers, but we got back in it.
“We changed the game plan at halftime, and we came back out with the right focus and mindset.”
Vanity Bell of Canton was one of several people who were affected by the tornado in Canton and who came to watch Deion take part in the challenge.
She said she and her four children lost their home in the tornado and are living out of boxes in a building that once served as her grandmother’s store.
“I think it's amazing that he’s helping like this, that he cares this much,” she said.