What started as a football player wanting to help the city where his team plays has become a massive outpouring of support.
J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Houston Texans, started a fundraiser Sunday to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on our great city, while leaving many stranded and in need of assistance,” a statement reads on Watt’s YouCaring crowdfunding page. “We must come together and collectively help rebuild the aspects of our community members lives that were damaged or lost. Any donation that you can spare, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated. We will come out of this stronger than ever. We are Texans.”
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His initial goal was to raise $200,000 for the Houston area.
“That’s our city,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “There’s going to be a lot we need to do to help rebuild.”
That goal was reached – in less than two hours.
The generosity of people far and wide has made Watt increase the goal multiple times.
The newest target is $10 million, which was updated Wednesday. Donations as of 9:30 p.m. Pacific time reached more than $8.9 million.
One of the largest gifts came from a big-time retailer and was announced on TV.
Walmart on Wednesday donated $1 million to Watt’s cause. The gift was announced on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Another large donation came from a rival NFL team’s owner.
Amy Adams Strunk, the controlling owner of the Tennessee Titans – the team that relocated from Houston after the 1996-97 season – donated $1 million Tuesday. The teams both play in the AFC South division.
“One of our rivals, but stepping up for the greater good of the people,” Watt said about Adams. “I can not thank you enough.”
The page has more than 84,000 individual donors and it has been shared at least 310,000 times.