J.J. Watt: Texas sized heart
On the football gridiron, Justin James Watt, of the Houston Texans, is a real life hercules. He can bench press 500 pounds, run a 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, and wreak havoc in opposing backfields. However, J.J. Watt seems to carry those same herculean qualities off the field as well.
No stranger to the fundraising mentality, Watt’s website, jjwfoundation.org, has provided over $3 million to after school athletic programs and organizations for children from sixth to eighth grade.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a five day storm that ravaged the Houston area, Houston’s most prolific football talent has once again sprung into action to lend a helping hand.
Starting out with a modest goal of raising $200,000 for relief efforts, Watt’s fundraising initiative, which was started on youcaring.com, has helped organize the efforts to raise over $29 million. Star athletes like James Harden, Chris Paul, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger have all contributed to Watt’s worthwhile campaign.
Before disbursing these funds, Watt is also doing his due diligence in making sure the funds go to the right people. Watt has consulted other high-profile athletes such as New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who had experience in fundraising efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as to how to go about distributing these funds.
“Not a single dollar has been spent yet,” Watt said. “All 10 semi-trucks were donated, goods have been donated, and everybody has volunteered. We haven’t even spent a single cent yet and we’re already making a difference.
“This is a long-term project. This is not a one day, one week, or one-year project,” Watt continued.
While the dollars continue to roll in, Watt is not simply resting on his laurels. In fact, Watt has been personally donating his time by assisting in loading semi-trucks filled with supplies such as food, water, and clothing, With the help of his Houston Texan teammates, Watt has led the charge in distributing these goods to victims of the storm.
In fact, because Watt has gone above and beyond the call of duty to aid his fellow Houstonians, more than 70,000 people have already signed a petition on charge.org to rename Texas State Highway 99 after Watt.
The significance of this particular highway is that J.J. Watt wears number 99 on NFL Sundays. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Governor Greg Abbott will have to sign off on the name change.
As a lifelong sports fan, I see a common pitfall with plenty of successful athletes. From gridiron greats of the past like O.J. Simpson, all the way up to Ezekiel Elliott, it seems as though that same competitive drive that allowed these athletes to overcome monumental odds and achieve success can also be a self destructive force than can instantly unravel everything that they had worked for.
In the case of J.J. Watt, he has the unique ability to utilize his trademark passion and intensity to accomplish extraordinary humanitarian work.
Watt serves as a positive role model for those within the community, while also providing a blueprint for those with celebrity status that may have lost their way. Let’s hope even more people can follow his example.