Typically, when a college player is recognized for football’s prestigious Heisman trophy, they typically thank parents, coaches, teammates and friends. Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow did something more.
“Coming from southeast Ohio,” Burrow said in his acceptance speech, “it’s a very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average.
“There’s so many people there that don’t have a lot. And I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too.”
As reported by CNN (Dec. 17), “In a matter of hours, the unassuming Appalachian town — home to Ohio University — was launched to national attention, inspiring Athens resident Will Drabold to create a fundraiser for the thousands of residents living under the poverty line.
“In just a day, the fundraiser was inundated with donations and quickly shot past its original $50,000 goal. The organizer later updated the goal to $100,000, which was met within hours. The goal had reached $400,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
“As of 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, more than $370,000 had been raised.
“ ‘Let’s answer Joey’s call to action by supporting a local nonprofit that serves food to more than 5,000 households in Athens County each year,’ the fundraiser page says.”
All donations go to the non-profit Athens County Food Pantry which serves more than 3,000 meals a week to those in need.
“Many, many thanks to Joe Burrow for shining a light on food insecurity in our area and a very heartfelt thank you to everyone that has donated,” the non-profit said on its Facebook page. Others followed:
“That’s what I just came here to say, too!” Lois Post wrote. “Without Will’s taking the initiative and posting the fundraiser, Joe’s voice wouldn’t have been heard by so many of us. Thanks 1,000,000, Will! ☺️”
Carrie Roe: “Thank you Will for kicking this off. Obviously, it swelled beyond your imagination but so great of you to think of it to give so many a way to be present and thankful.”
“Some of these kids don’t get toys for Christmas,” Will Drabold wrote. “Some get their food from the Food Pantry. You cannot beat the power of role models and inspiration in their lives. None of these kids, who are in the same classrooms Joey was, will ever forget this.”
With the words of one grateful athlete, people listened and came together, because at the end of the day, we’re ALL in this together.
Joe Burrow deserves our gratitude for being a role model of real character.
(By the way, the current number on donations raised was $455, 254.00, as of Thursday.)
Be sure to tune-in on Christmas Day for a special commentary.