J.J. Watt is one of the most beloved athletes to represent a Houston franchise, and he was that even before his incredible efforts to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims. What started out as a simple post on YouCaring.com turned into a massive social media movement that saw Watt raise $37 million. His initial goal was $200,000 which he started by donating $100,000 of his own money.
He posted a video on Twitter announcing the challenge and the goal of $200,000, which was reached in two hours.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 27, 2017
As the money kept flowing in faster than Harvey’s rainfall, Watt continued to increase the goal. First was $500,000, which was met within 24 hours. Then $1 million, which was reached quickly, and that’s when the major donors started coming through.
Before he knew it, celebrities from all over were contributing. Ellen Degeneres donated $1 million with the help of Wal-Mart. Drake contributed $200,000. Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk donated $1 million. Houston Rockets owner (at the time) Leslie Alexander pledged $10 million. James Harden pledged $1 million and Chris Paul, only a member of the Rockets for a couple months, pledged $50,000.
When his crowd fund hit $10 million, it became the “fastest growing, largest crowdfunding charitable fundraiser in the ten-year history of crowdfunding” according to Forbes.com.
It was maybe the most powerful use of social media to date. Harvey devastated Houston with its record rainfall. Some areas of the city saw as much as 60+ inches of rain. It left thousands without a home and so many others taking on damage they needed to repair after the flooding subsided.
When someone with a large social media following asked for help, so many answered the call and proved the lengths we are willing to go to help one another. Houston is forever in Watt’s debt as this fund is already going a long way to helping people pick up the pieces and get their lives back to normal.
A few photos from today’s visit to a few of the sites where great work is being done using the funds you all so generously donated. Explanation and videos on my Instagram story and Snapchat. pic.twitter.com/FbqCMGRRLi
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 1, 2017
A few photos from today’s visit to a few of the sites where great work is being done using the funds you all so generously donated. Explanation and videos on my Instagram story and Snapchat. pic.twitter.com/Vxug98Buxy
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 1, 2017
Watt was recently interviewed by ForTheWin at USA Today and asked about the use of social media for good and if he has any advice for those looking to do the same. Here’s what he had to say.
FTW: When devastating flooding hit the Houston area you raised more than $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief. Why has using social media as a platform been so important to you?
Watt: Athletes in today’s world, with social media, have a tremendous ability to get a message out there and use your platform to do some good in the world. It’s up to each individual how they use it, but this year we’ve seen more athletes than ever use their platforms to start so many important conversations.
Watt: My best piece of advice would be to start small. start local. Go out into your community after school and build it from there. Do what you’re passionate about. Go out there and find a cause that you’re really passionate about and help in that area because if you’re passionate about something, you’re going to work that much harder.
It’s better to hope that natural disasters of this scale never happen again, but one can also take solace in if the worst should happen, our nation will answer the call for help.