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Professional Athletes donate to Hurricane Harvey relief

By Kevin Costa

Section: Sports

September 8, 2017

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the sports world has responded with generous donations, offering hope to the thousands of Southeastern Texans affected by the storm.

Last Thursday’s preseason game between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys was cancelled due to the hurricane, according to NFL.com. The game was initially relocated from Houston to Arlington. The Texans flew to Dallas that weekend following week three’s game in New Orleans and practiced at Ford Center that Monday and Tuesday, according to the Dallas Cowboys’ website. But, the next day, both teams decided to cancel the exhibition game to allow Texan players to assist with relief efforts and spend time with their families. In lieu of the game, the Cowboys held a live telethon at AT&T Stadium during a team practice, raising over $3 million for the Salvation Army. Roughly 30 current and past Cowboys took calls for donations on makeshift telephones as the rest of the team practiced. The event was televised on CBS11 and streamed online. Even the Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones made a sizeable $1 million donation during the telethon. Here, sports and competition showed their more compassionate sides.

Many other NFL members and organizations have raised funds for Houston, ESPN reports. Owners Robert C. McNair and Steve Bisciotti of the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens respectively donated $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston. The owners of the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and New York Jets also pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross.

Most notably, J.J. Watt started an online fundraiser that has received over $17 million. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ellen DeGeneres, Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk and NBA player Chris Paul have all contributed to the fund, according to USA Today. J.J. Watt, a Wisconsin native but all-pro defensive end of the Houston Texans, had initially set a goal of $200,000. Days later, as an outpouring of donations started to come through, he reset that modest goal to $10 million, according to wwl.com. And when donations exceeded that figure, Watt raised the goal to $15 million, according to CNN. Now, his goal is $20 million and he plans to keep the fund open as it continues to exceed expectations. Watt is now focused on how best to use the money to head relief efforts across flooded Texas.

To help guide his efforts, Watt contacted multiple companies that contributed to Hurricane Katrina relief in New Orleans. Watt wanted to learn about the successes and shortfalls of those companies back in 2005 to help best aid Harvey relief efforts. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, he said, “The best thing that people have told me so far is take your time to make sure you do it right.” This past weekend, the defensive end, along with fellow teammates, filled nine semi-trucks with water, food, supplies and clothing. This is only phase one, and Watt is implementing a plan to help with the long-run rebuild of the devastated area. Watt also told Cooper, “I’m not just here for the initial fundraiser. I’m here to make sure that we take care of you down the road.”

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