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SportsPulse: Athletes, past and present, have come together in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to help generate millions of dollars for those affected and recovering from the devastating storm.
USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — J.J. Watt, the NFL star who has raised more than $17 million for Hurricane Harvey victims, on Sunday took his relief efforts into the streets here.

Watt, a defensive end for the Houston Texans, and his teammates handed out supplies on a day normally reserved for football.

During a relief effort run through Watt’s non-profit foundation, everything from water, baby supplies and pet food was donated earlier in the week in Pewaukee, Wis., Watt’s hometown of less than 14,000 people. The supplies filled 10 semi-trucks, which arrived Saturday.

“We’re going to be helping to distribute 10 semi-trucks worth of goods. Water, food, clothing, cleaning supplies,” Watt said Sunday before heading into local neighborhoods. “We’re going to make sure we get out in those areas that were hit the hardest. Get directly into the city. Get directly to the people who need the help and hand out these.”

More: Behold a true humanitarian in Texans star J.J. Watt

More: J.J. Watt’s foundation, Wisconsin hometown rally around Hurricane Harvey relief effort

Watt and teammates fanned out to four locations in this city, devastated by the category 4 hurricane that has left at least 44 people dead, ruined up to 1 million cars and resulted in an estimated $160 billion in damage.

Meanwhile, Watt’s fundraising efforts online at YouCaring.com continued to amass money a week after he started the campaign with a $100,000 donation and goal of raising $200,000. As of Sunday morning, the total was $17.5 million, mostly donations of less than $100 each from more than 166,000 people.

But large donations have helped draw attention to the cause. Watt’s campaign drew $1 million each from  Ellen DeGeneres, Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk and Walmart. Drake donated $200,000 and NBA star Chris Paul donated $50,000.

Watt said Sunday’s work was “phase one” and that the foundation is taking care to ensure the money is used effectively.

“That’s phase one,” Watt said. “Phase two is what’s going to happen with all of the money. Not a single dollar has been spent yet. All 10 semi-trucks were donated … so we haven’t even spent a single cent yet and that’s a testament to the community.

“This is our plan now, just so you can understand, because I know people are trusting me with their money to make the right decisions.”

Watt’s mother, Connie, runs his foundation and helped organize the donation drive in Wisconsin.

“Everybody up here was willing and able and the community wanted to do something,’’ Connie Watt told USA TODAY Sports Friday. “It’s not easy or simple, but neither is the task at hand down in Texas, so we stepped up to the challenge.’’ 

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