HOUSTON (AP/KMOX) – Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt almost didn’t know to react to the stunning growth of his flood relief fundraising effort, which started with a web page and a video Sunday. Since then, he’s been offering video updates as the total climbed over $6 million. The original goal was $200,000.
“We’ve upped the goal to $10 million because everything is bigger in Texas,” he said. “Why not? Let’s shoot for $10 million and see what we can do.”
Watt added that he has trucks filled with supplies that he expects to arrive in Houston by this weekend. In Texas, the official death toll stood at 23 on Wednesday, although authorities were investigating an additional 17 deaths to determine whether they were storm related.
The All-Pro’s kicked off his campaign on YouCaring.com Sunday with a donation of $100,000. Since then, major donations have come from Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk – $1 million – and NBA star Chris Paul – $50,000 – but a majority of the money raised has come from 65,000 other donors contributing between $20 and $100 apiece.
“This thing is gaining only more and more steam and momentum,’’ Dan Saper, CEO of YouCaring, told USA TODAY Sports. “Who knows. But we’re confident we can get to $10 million. J.J.’s confident he can get there.’’
Saper said Watt’s fundraising effort could break crowdfunding campaign records, with the current record at about $8 million raised on GoFundMe in 2016 for victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, reports USA Today.
YouCaring’s website crashed when Watt first tweeted about his Hurricane Harvey relief campaign.
Watt’s Sunday was recently opened up, with the NFL’s decision to cancel the Texans’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.
“The tentative plan is Sunday we’re going to have a bunch of my teammates are going to help me out in a few different locations around town to be determined and we’re going to hand out supplies,” he said.
“I think it’s the right decision (to cancel the game),” he said. “Everybody here is obviously most concerned about their families, their friends, the city of Houston back home. I think it’s extremely important that we get home as quickly as we possibly can.”
Watt said he’s been moved by watching everyone that has helped out in the crisis so far and is looking forward to pitching in.
“It’s been extremely difficult to watch,” he said. “But it’s also been unbelievably motivational to see firefighters, policeman. Everyday citizens out in boats helping each other out … it’s an unbelievable thing to witness what happens in a time of crisis. The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity.”
The Houston Astros were forced to play their games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, due to the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey. They will return to the Astrodome on Saturday for a doubleheader against the New York Mets.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)