On Aug. 27, 2017, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt launched an online fundraising campaign to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
On Monday, the one-year anniversary of the start of the drive, Watt’s foundation revealed that the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund raised $41.6 million to become the largest fundraiser conducted by crowdsourcing in history.
The foundation also announced the funds had been distributed to eight nonprofit groups: All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.
The money has been used to repair and rebuild more than 600 homes, fund more than 420 childcare centers and after-school programs, pay for health services to those in need and provide more than 26 million meals.
“As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit,” Watt said in a statement released by his foundation. “I was fortunate enough to witness that generosity first hand, as the fundraiser that I started with a simple goal of $200,000 turned into an unbelievable outpouring of support from people all around the globe.”
When the Texans couldn’t return to Houston after a preseason game in New Orleans, the team was sent to Dallas. It was there, in his hotel room, that Watt launched the fundraiser. In the first two hours, he had met that $200,000 target. Within three weeks, it reached $37 million, and donations have continued to trickle in since.
Watt, 29, also said that in the next year, funds will continue to go toward home restoration, health services, food distribution and rebuilding damaged Boys & Girls Clubs.
“While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done,” Watt said. “Moving forward, there will be more of the same, as we continue to work with our incredible nonprofit partners to provide as much help and support as we possibly can for those affected by Harvey.”
For his efforts, Watt was named the 2017 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year and shared Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year award with Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros.
—Field Level Media