Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt’s foundation raised $41.6 million to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The sum total is the largest crowd-sourced fundraiser in history, the Justin J. Watt Foundation announced.
Per the foundation, the money raised was distributed to the following non-profit organizations: All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.
Watt started the fundraiser after the Texans were unable to return to Houston following their preseason game against the New Orleans Saints last year. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year raised the first $200,000 in two hours before that total ballooned to $37 million over three weeks later.
The 29-year-old Watt posted videos throughout the process, thanking donors and reassuring them that the money would go directly toward helping victims rather than covering administrative costs.
“As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit,” Watt said in a statement. “The actions of professional first responders and everyday citizens alike were an inspiration to the world and a shining example of the inherent good that lies within us all.”
Per the foundation, the funds raised have been used to repair and rebuild more than 600 homes, 420 childcare centers and after-school programs and to distribute more than 26 million meals.
Watt also set out a plan for the next 12 months, stating that the funds will continue to go toward home restoration and assistance with physical and mental health services in Houston and the surrounding areas. The funds will also go toward rebuilding damaged Boys & Girls Clubs and providing support for food distribution with Feeding America.
“While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done,” Watt said. “Moving forward, there will be more of the same, as we continue to work with our incredible nonprofit partners to provide as much help and support as we possibly can for those affected by Harvey.
“I cannot thank everyone enough for your support and generosity. You have truly provided an unbelievable example of what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing. Every time that I am fortunate enough to witness someone step back into their home for the first time or a child run around on the playground again, I am reminded of the generosity of strangers that helped make it all possible. Thank you and never stop spreading the positivity!”
Watt was named the winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award last season. The award recognizes a player’s on-field excellence and volunteer and charity work.
He also was named to TIME Magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people in April.