SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - While Hurricane Dorian didn’t significantly impact the WTOC viewing area, one local college student felt the effects in a big way.
When Czar Beneby takes the field for the Savannah State University Tigers football team this season, he is playing for more than himself, more than the team and more than the school. He is playing for an entire nation.
Hurricane Dorian left pure devastation in its path earlier this month.
"It's like a chip on my shoulder. I tried to do everything I could. Every time I line up to that ball, it's just like, I've got to give it my all, just to give it to the Bahamas,” Beneby said.
Beneby is from Nassau, Bahamas. He moved to South Florida at age 11 and visits his family back home as often as he can.
"I had like, memories of me and my cousins playing in the yard and now, we don't have a yard anymore. It was just too much for me to take, but I kind of took it above me and kept doing what I had to do to stay positive for football,” he said.
With Dorian hitting his home, the season opener for the Tigers was difficult for him to focus on.
"I actually had a 14-year-old niece that was missing, but you know, that kind of took a toll on me during the season, so I tried to stay positive. Prayed and everything is good now and so I'm happy, so I just prayed and prayed and prayed,” Beneby said.
The same week, the Savannah State athletics family lost one of their own. Volleyball player Karissa Tatum died in a car wreck while evacuating.
Beneby said she always had a smile. That weekend, he played for her and his country.
Savannah State and T.A. Wright stadium serve as a refuge for him.
"I'm fortunate enough to be here and it's like, whatever gear I get, I just give it away to the people that don't have it, like my cousins that was in the hurricane. He came to visit me in Savannah, so I was like, man, give the shirt off my chest for him, so he can have it in his room to remember me, so I gave it to him to take back and have forever,” Beneby said.
While he plays the season for the people of the Bahamas, he knows they'll rebuild.
"I know for a fact they're strong. My blood is strong, so I know everything is going to be Ok,” Beneby said.
Beneby says he will have the Bahamas in his heart when the team travels to Augusta this weekend for their first conference and road game of the season as the Tigers take on Benedict College in at 6 p.m. eastern in the Augusta Classic at Lucy Laney Stadium.