HOUSTON -- A year after J.J. Watt set up an online fundraiser to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey, the Texans star's foundation announced that the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund raised $41.6 million, making it the largest crowd-sourced fundraiser in history.
The YouCaring.com page originally raised more than $37 million, but according to the Justin J. Watt Foundation, money continued to come in after the deadline, pushing the total to $41.6 million.
The money raised was distributed to eight nonprofits: All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.
"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 released by his foundation. "I was fortunate enough to witness that generosity first hand, as the fundraiser that I started with a simple goal of $200,000 turned into an unbelievable outpouring of support from people all around the globe."
Watt started the fundraiser from his hotel room in Dallas, where the team had to be rerouted after they could not get back after their Week 3 preseason game in New Orleans. He raised the first $200,000 in two hours, and three weeks later, had topped $37 million.
The funds raised have been used to repair and rebuild more than 600 homes, more than 420 childcare centers and after-school programs and to distribute more than 26 million meals. The money raised also provided health services to those in need.
Watt also set out a plan for the next 12 months, saying that the funds will continue to go toward home restoration and assistance with physical and mental health services in Houston and the surrounding areas, as well as 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!"