When he was a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, following a game plan is what Jerry Rice says made him successful. So when he returned to Candlestick Park to participate in the kickoff of Ready Neighborhoods — a collaborative effort between the American Red Cross and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) to help the region become disaster ready — he wanted people to have a game plan of their own.

“We have to educate people about preparing for a disaster, because most of us are thinking: ‘It won’t happen to me.’ But it could,” says Rice. “Until I was involved in this campaign, I wasn’t prepared,” he admits.

“...most of us are thinking: ‘It won’t happen to me.’ But it could,”

Face to face with heroes

The first thing Rice did was get a disaster prep kit. “You need water, you need energy, you need food,” he says. Though Rice says he feels fortunate to have never had any personal hardship from a disaster like an earthquake, he shares that “handing out those kits at the kickoff and talking to each person made me feel complete and a part of something important.”

He emphasizes that the event, which brought disaster readiness awareness to 60,000 people, was about teamwork — something Rice knows a lot about. “It was like a rally call. I was sitting there with heroes. Fire departments, doctors, people that save lives and put their lives on the line every day. I have so much respect for those individuals,” he adds.

Being involved in Ready Neighborhoods has become an important part of Rice’s post-NFL work because, he says, it helped him take action to keep his family safe. “You can save so many lives and help so many people,” he says of being prepared.