Pictures and videos of the damages wrought by flash flooding last weekend in Palestine, Texas, hit Adrian Peterson hard.
Even worse? Learning that the severe storm led to the tragic deaths of six people, including a former high school teammate of Peterson, who is committing at least $100,000 of his own money to **The Salvation Army’s relief efforts*** *in the area.
The Vikings running back had known Giovanni Oliva since they were in elementary school, but the memories they made on the gridiron stood out the most. The three-time NFL rushing champ recalled a broad smile and a spirit that exceeded Olivas' frame.
"One thing I remember about Giovanni, it's so funny because when you look at him, you're like, 'Why are you playing football?,' because the guy was so skinny," Peterson told Vikings.com Wednesday. "The one thing I'll never forget about him was that big smile because he always carried a big smile on him and was genuinely a good guy and had a good heart.
"He played receiver and a little bit of tight end, too, but just seeing those pads on him, it was like a stick figure with pads on, but he was out there for the cause," Peterson continued. "That's what he wanted to do, be part of the team and contribute to the team. It was fun. Those days are the days you remember. I guess I can sit here and say, being on all levels I've been through, high school is the time that you remember and cherish the most."
Peterson is planning to visit his hometown this weekend and has been receiving updates from a close friend.
"He's been keeping me updated on the steps that they're taking in the areas that were hit the most to clean out the houses and dispose of things and try to patch up things that got destroyed in that area," Peterson said. "He's been kind of my soldier down there until I can get down there with my people to help out."
Peterson is asking fans to join the effort through online donations to join his $100,000 commitment and will match the amount given by fans.
Fans can text "AP28" to 51555 or go to **give.salvationarmyusa.org/joinap*** *to help areas in East Texas that include Anderson, Smith and Wood Counties that received more than 7 inches of rain.
"It was rough to see my community affected so significantly with the storm claiming lives and doing significant damage to a lot of the community," Peterson said. "This community has supported me through thick and thin, and it's where I'm rooted, so that's why I am committing myself to donate $100,000 and team up with The Salvation Army to start this fund to help my community get back on its feet.
"I'm asking people to donate to the cause and help our community," Peterson continued. "I'll be matching whatever amount they donate. It feels good to be able to help my community, but to me, it's expected from me, to give back to my community, having the platform I have. That's why I'm putting in such an effort to help."
The flash flooding claimed the lives of six people in Palestine: Lenda Asberry, 64, her four grandchildren who were 6, 7, 8 and 9 years old, and Olivas, 30.
"We are devastated because of it," Palestine Assistant Fire Chief Kyle Betterton told **The Weather Channel**. "Everybody is working feverishly, using every resource they can to get to the people and help the people."
The Associated Press reported **more than 200 homes** in East Texas were damaged, including 84 that have been deemed uninhabitable.