As football season is fully underway, many of us get swept up in the weekly excitement of watching our favorite teams take on their rivals. Maybe you’re closely watching the ups and downs of your Fantasy Football team and strategizing about who to start each week and what the most beneficial trades may be. It’s an exciting time of year for many fans. Let’s take this opportunity to highlight the work one football player is doing off the field.
JJ Watt plays defensive end for the Houston Texans and has made quite a name for himself as a philanthropist. After playing college ball in his home state at the University of Wisconsin, he skipped his senior season in favor of entering the NFL Draft in 2011. He was 11th pick overall, the Texans’ first pick, and has racked up plenty of football accolades since.
Around the time he was drafted, Watt started the JJ Watt Foundation with the goal of providing funding for after-school athletic programs. The foundation believes that sports provide powerful learning opportunities outside the classroom, helping kids learn teamwork, sportsmanship, and hard work. School sports also provide safe and secure activities for kids during after-school hours. The JJ Watt Foundation’s motto “Dream big, work hard” has been fulfilled at dozens of schools across the US, primarily in Texas and Wisconsin, where the foundation has funded new equipment, uniforms, transportation to games, and secure areas to store program equipment. In the years since its inception, the foundation has distributed nearly $4.3 million to after-school sports programs.
Last year, the foundation took on another charitable project: Hurricane Harvey relief. In the wake of the massive flooding and damage in Houston, Watt reached out to his fans, hoping to raise $200,000 for relief efforts. In the following days and months, an unprecedented amount of money poured in. In the end, Watt’s effort raised $41.6 million. Some questioned whether the foundation would be able to administer such a huge amount of money. It’s safe to say that Watt probably didn’t have a plan for this sum at the outset.
In the year since Harvey, Watt’s foundation has partnered with other charitable organizations in Houston as they administer the funds, including Americares and Feeding America. They’ve helped tens of thousands of people with everything from repairing and rebuilding their homes, rebuilding childcare centers and after-school programs, providing physical and mental health care, and distributing medications. In the coming year, they plan to continue work with partner organizations including local food banks, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boys and Girls Clubs to sustain relief efforts.
We hope that in the coming days you enjoy the excitement of football season (or perhaps hockey is more up your alley!), while also keeping an eye out for ways you can engage with your community, give back, and maybe take some inspiration from Watt. You don’t have to raise millions of dollars to make a difference in your community. Take some time to carefully consider your charitable goals and then add them to your annual to-do list. Your Merriman advisor has plenty of tools to help you maximize your charitable gifts to the benefit of yourself and your recipients. Your financial life may range from accumulating wealth to distributing it, and we’ll happily guide you toward achieving all of your goals.
To learn more about the JJ Watt Foundation, check out their website.