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Hefner sinks teeth into tornado relief work

Hefner sinks teeth into tornado relief work

Hefner sinks teeth into tornado relief work

NEW YORK -- When Jeremy Hefner first heard that his hometown had been hit by another tornado in late May -- the second since 1999 -- it was difficult to process.

"When I heard it was in Moore again, I was freaking out," Hefner said.

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His thoughts first turned to making sure everyone was fine. Now, they've turned to the recovery process of once again restoring Moore, Okla., to what it was.

Hefner was at Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant with his wife and two children on Wednesday to officially announce the introduction of the "Foley's 405 Burger," named after Moore's 405 area code, with all proceeds from sales of the burger going to LifeChurch.tv, the Oklahoma City-based church where Hefner is a member.

LifeChurch is organizing relief efforts for the Moore tornadoes by donating clothing, supplies and even providing temporary housing to those affected.

"The church is there and they're active in helping the victims, and every dollar amount donated will go straight to the tornado victims," Hefner said.

The promotion will run through the entire month of June. The burger, normally known as simply the Foley's burger, is the restaurant's best-selling menu item.

"I wanted something that I knew straight off the bat was going to sell," Foley's owner Shaun Clancy said.

Clancy hopes he can get Hefner back to the restaurant some time this month for either an autograph session or a guest bartending session, but the Mets' rigorous schedule makes that uncertain. Still, the promotion has already made an immediate impact.

"Not that it's like shooting fish in a barrel," Clancy said, "but I knew it was going to be, because it's our biggest selling item."

Foley's ran a similar charitable promotion in 2011 with David Robertson. The Yankees relief pitcher is a Birmingham, Ala., native and teamed up with Foley's to raise money for the tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., two years ago.

When Clancy heard about the Moore tornado, he wanted to do something similar. He reached out to Robertson for help, who referred him to Hefner. Clancy went through the Mets' public relations team and set something up with the starting pitcher.

"It's always nice when you can help somebody," Clancy said, "But it's also nice when you're actually helping the people, as opposed to just donating the money to charity."

The burger, Hefner said, is also a representation of the state. Oklahoma is known for its steak and Hefner originally wanted the promotion to be tied to Foley's best-selling steak item. But that's a Philly cheesesteak -- a silly connection for an Oklahoma native pitching in New York, Clancy thought.

So they turned to the Foley's burger. Not only is it the restaurant's best-selling item, but the cheese, mushrooms and onions that ooze out of the burger give it that Oklahoma feel that Hefner hoped for.

"I think he was trying to encompass a little bit of what Oklahoma's about," Hefner said. "You know, the beef and mushrooms and onions typically go on steaks, and steaks are big in Oklahoma. It fits. It fits well."

David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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