Athens County native Joe Burrow’s Heisman acceptance speech has led to over 13,500 people donating almost $500,000 to the Athens County Food Pantry.
Will Drabold, an Athens resident, started the fundraiser at about 11 a.m. Sunday Dec. 15. As of about 3 p.m. Sunday Dec. 29,, there has been about $493,000 donated of the $500,000 goal, which has been updated multiple times.
Burrow, quarterback for Louisiana State University, received the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, Dec. 14. He graduated from Athens High School in 2015.
“Coming from Southeast Ohio, it’s a very impoverished area, and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average,” Burrow said in his acceptance speech. “There’s so many people there that don’t have a lot, and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too."
Over 5,700 people were able to be served with the donations to the Athens County Food Pantry in 2018, according to the food pantry’s website. Of those people, over 1,800 were children. There were also over 2,100 individual households served by the food pantry.
“He is an inspiring young man that others could certainly take a lesson from,” Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks said in an email. “On behalf of all 2 million hungry Ohioans – Thank you Joey!”
The Athens County Food Pantry thanked the supporters on Facebook.
The post stated that the board will be having “in-depth conversations about the best ways to use these funds,” because it has never received this many donations before. The post also stated that the pantry will seek to be careful in making these decisions.
“On behalf of the board and our clients, merely saying thank you for this amazing show of support for our work cannot accurately reflect the depth of our appreciation!” the post read.
Hamler-Fugitt said it is “very impressive” that so many people are donating from across the country.
Over 5,700 people were served with donations from the Athens County Food Pantry in 2018, according to the food pantry’s website. Of those people, over 1,800 were children. There were also over 2,100 individual households served by the food pantry.
“When I lift this trophy again, it’s for LSU, Ohio State, Southeast Ohio and for all of Louisiana,” Burrow said in his acceptance speech.
Editor’s note: The story has been updated to show the most current amount of donations and statements from the Athens County Food Pantry and Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. Will Drabold is also an alumnus of Ohio University and The Post.