Houston Texans defensive end, J.J. Watt, has raised more than ten million dollars for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, thanks in part both to celebrity donors and to Americans who opened their wallets to help the football star achieve his goal: helping his flood-ravaged adopted hometown.
Watt launched the project on YouCaring.com Sunday night, contributing $100,000 of his own money and asking his fans to match that number, so that together they could raise $200,000 for Harvey relief. Little did he realize that his fundraiser would go viral; by Monday, Watt had already achieved his goal and by Thursday mid-day, the fund was closing in on $11 million.
Watt thanked his donors in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday.
In the video, Watt explains what his team is doing with the money, assuring both big-money and small-money donors that it's already being put to good use, filling trucks with food, water, and clothing, generators and cleaning supplies.
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 says. "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."
J.J. Watt and his teammates were headed back to Houston Thursday morning to survey the damage, both to their arena, and to players' homes.
The fund has some big name contributors: Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk donated $1 million, and Ellen DeGeneres partnered with Wal-Mart to also donate $1 million. Singer Miley Cyrus gave $500,000. But it also has a lot of small contributors. Watt says he's received money from at least 700,000 individual donors, most giving in small increments.