J.J. Watt started an online fundraiser Sunday to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey with a modest goal of $200,000. On Thursday, after an outpouring of support, the amount donated had surpassed $10 million.
Watt tweeted to mark the milestone, thanking those who donated for their generosity. He also said he will leave the fund open and see how high the total can go.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 31, 2017
The Houston Texans defensive end said Wednesday night that he had already begun to use the money to help those affected in flood-ravaged Houston.
“We’re filling the semi-trucks as we speak. Many people have donated their trucks, their time, donated food, water, clothing, generators, things like that,” Watt said. “We’re going to get those trucks down here by this weekend. … The tentative plan is Sunday we’re going to have a bunch of my teammates help me out in a few different locations around town to be determined, and we’re going to hand out those supplies.
“We’re basically trying to find (a) the safest areas we can get to — obviously we don’t want to put anybody in danger — but then (b) the areas that need it the absolute most. So, we’re going to try and set up — literally, it’s going to be open up the back of a semi-truck and start handing out water, start handing out clothes.”
Watt made an initial $100,000 donation on Sunday when he started the relief effort. He has been steadily raising the stated goal as donations have surpassed it. The fund has received $1 million donations from Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who partnered with Walmart on her gift.
Others in the NFL also are raising money to help those in need in Houston. The owners of the Texans and Baltimore Ravens each pledged $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston’s flood relief fund; the NFL Foundation matched the Texans’ offer. The owners of the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and New York Jets each announced $1 million donations to the American Red Cross.
The Texans returned to Houston on Wednesday after a safe route was found for the team to travel from Arlington, Texas, where players and personnel had been since Sunday because of the storm.