TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Robert Reed pulled at least 12 people from beneath the rubble of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes in Tuscaloosa four years ago. However, since then Reed has been keeping a secret about himself, and a local nonprofit organization wants to see something done.
During the tornado, Reed was hit in the mouth by flying debris, specifically, a truck’s tire. “I was fine as long as my legs could move and my arms could pick-up the stuff,” says Reed. “I was fine.”
Before April 27, Reed says he was perceived by neighbors as someone to be avoided. He was a convict, arrested at the age of 26 on drug charges in Mississippi. However, in the aftermath the tornado, he spit out a mouth-full of broken teeth and earned the nickname ‘Superman’.
“You know it makes me feel good to hear that, but I’m just a normal person. Robert. Just trying to do my part,” says Reed. After he tended to his own family, Reed began to walk up and down the streets of the mobile home park where he lived in Holt. Neighbors had been pinned beneath walls and other debris, and were calling out for help.
“The stuff that I lifted that day–I believe in my heart that God was guiding me and he was helping me out, because when I went back the following day, I couldn’t budge any of the stuff that I had picked up the day before,” Reed remembers.
A nonprofit, High Socks for Hope, heard about Reed’s heroism. His home had been destroyed by the tornado, and the organization’s members wanted to offer their services, but Reed became a volunteer for High Socks.
“I mean, there’s no way, he’s given back so much. I mean it’s far above and beyond anything anybody could ever imagine. It’s gonna make me cry. It’s amazing really,” says Judy Holland, managing director of High Socks for Hope.
High Socks for Hope was started after the storm by Tuscaloosa-native and Chicago White Sox pitcher, David Robertson and his wife Erin. Their goal is to help people impacted by natural disasters, in addition to homeless veterans. Over the past four years, Reed volunteered his time–sometimes as much as 40 hours a week, according to Holland.
“He says he saved 12 people?” says Holland. “He’s saved hundreds over the past four years, because you know, there’s a lot of people in town that wouldn’t have furniture in their home if it wasn’t for him.”
Holland says Reed uses his own truck and trailer to carry things for High Socks for Hope. He works long hours at his regular job, and then volunteers with the nonprofit. However, Reed never told his new friends at High Socks for Hope that he was still struggling with pain as a result of his tornado-related injury.
“He looks down and you know, but he smiles with his eyes so you don’t really notice,” says Holland, “but I look back on all of my pictures and there’s not a single picture with his teeth. He’s always smiling with his mouth closed.”
When the truck tire hit Reed in the mouth it broke five of his teeth. Reed reluctantly admits that they still bother him whenever he eats or drinks something especially hot or cold.
“The pain is bearable. So I just keep moving. I can’t stop just because I’m in pain. I have to keep moving because I love the life I’m living,” Reed explains.
But now, High Socks wants to give back to Reed to fix his smile. They’re raising money on Facebook for the procedure and they need help. A local dentist, who wished to remain anonymous, has offered his services for free. However, the cost of the lab and bridge fees still need to be covered. The total cost, according to High Socks for Hope, will be around $2300.00 They are asking that people consider making a donation. Holland explains, High Socks has currently got a lot of on-going projects, including moving 60 veterans into housing situations, and they can’t afford to cover the full cost of Reed’s procedure. “Just putting the stuff in people’s houses and to see their faces after they get it and they’re excited and glad just because they got something–it’s a blessing,” Reed says. “It makes me feel good inside, because now, I’m doing the stuff that I felt like I was suppose to be doing all along.” To find out what you can do, click here.
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News