NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Leaguewide support to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area is getting stronger.
Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk is donating $1 million to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt’s drive on crowdfunding site YouCaring, which will go toward resources for those hit hard by the flooding.
“As the person collecting it, I can promise you I’m doing everything I can to make sure this money is going directly back to the people,” Watt said Tuesday from Arlington, Texas, where the Texans are working out this week. “I’m working very hard at that. I have a great group of people helping me. And I’m just going to do everything I can to make sure your money goes where it needs to go to make sure these people are getting the help they need.”
Strunk is a Houston native and still has a home just outside of the city. She spent the week in Nashville and attended Titans practice Tuesday.
“The flooding and devastation to the Houston area has been painful to watch,” Strunk said in a statement. “As a native to the area, I have been so encouraged to see how the locals and the nation as a whole have come together to help one another. The NFL, at the end of the day, is a family that helps one another in times of need.
“JJ has created a dynamic where boots will be on the ground with immediate aid to those who need it. The Titans want to be a part of his effort to help the Houston community as it rebuilds. I talked with him earlier today and he was very appreciative. We discussed his plans and I know he is determined to help as many people as he can.”
Watt said it was “hard to put it into words” his feelings about Strunk’s donation, calling the pledge “remarkable.”
“From a team in our division, one of our rivals, willing to go above and beyond football — above and beyond anything — and donate $1 million, it’s incredible. And it just speaks to humanity, it speaks to the good in people,” he said.
“So I can’t say thank you enough to the Titans organization and everybody over there and Mrs. Strunk. But also everybody that’s donating $5, $10. Everybody’s donating whatever they can. I realize money’s not easy to come by. So whatever people are donating, however generous they’re being, it’s unbelievable. We started out trying to raise $200,000 for this, and we’re over $3.25 million.”
The Titans Foundation donated $25,000 to the Red Cross over the weekend to be used in the same manner.
Just after 1 a.m ET on Wednesday, the drive had crossed the $5 million mark, and the new goal of the fundraiser was increased to $6 million.
“I’m trying to get semi-trucks full of water, food, clothing, cleaning supplies so that hopefully the goal is this weekend, once the floods are down and once we get back to Houston, we drive those semi-trucks up to a few locations around the city and we start handing it out,” he said.
“And that’s the tentative plan at the moment.”
Texans coach Bill O’Brien called Watt’s efforts “incredible.”
“There’s really not a lot of words that can describe what he’s done. And that thing that’s really pretty neat about him is he’s adamant about that money going towards the people that need it. And I think he’s got a lot of great ideas for that money and I think he’s actually putting it into action right now,” O’Brien said.
And while Watt still thinks the Houston-Dallas preseason game shouldn’t be played, he did get his wish that money generated from ticket sales to the exhibition finale will go to recovery efforts from the storm.
The New York Jets also made a $1 million donation on Tuesday to the American Red Cross.
On Monday, Texans owner Bob McNair pledged a $1 million donation to the United Way of Greater Houston Flood Relief. The NFL Foundation said it will match the $1 million donation.
In addition, the New England Patriots announced Monday that the Kraft family is offering to match all funds donated to the American Red Cross up to $1 million.
Other non-monetary help is being provided, too.
Houston officials said they’re opening a major shelter at NRG Park, the home stadium of Watt’s Texans that can accommodate up to 10,000 evacuees from Harvey.