NEW YORK (WCMH/AP) — Thanks to Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech, many families in Athens County won’t go hungry this holiday season.
On Saturday, LSU quarterback, and Athens, Ohio native, Joe Burrow won the most prestigious award in college football; the Heisman trophy.
But it was his speech that has many people in his hometown talking.
“Coming from southeast Ohio it’s a very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average. 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,” an emotional Burrow said during the ceremony.
In response to his speech, a fundraiser was set up for the Athens County Food Pantry. The initial goal was to raise $1,000. In one day, it has raised more than $100,000. And it continues to climb, currently sitting at more than $217,000 of a $250,000 goal.
To find out how to donate click here: Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech: Fundraiser for Athens County Food Pantry
Organizer Will Drabold had to repeatedly raise the goal throughout the last 48 hours, posting grateful updates to the fundraiser’s Facebook page.
“Absolutely, this is completely unexpected,” said organizer Karen Bright. “We had no idea anything like this would happen. It’s much more than we would typically get in a year.”
The quarterback won the Heisman on Saturday night in a record-breaking landslide, becoming the first LSU player to bring college football’s most prestigious award back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 60 years.
Burrow received 2,608 points and 841 first-place votes, a record 90.7% of all the first-place votes available. Burrow also set a record for percentage of points available received with 93.8, breaking the mark of 91.6% set by Troy Smith of Ohio State in 2006. Burrow was named on 95.5% of all ballots, breaking the record of 95.2% set by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in 2014.
Burrow’s margin of victory of 1,846 points broke the record of 1,750 set by O.J. Simpson of Southern California in 1968.
Foodbank volunteer Rob Szebo sees every day how much families in Athens County depend on the pantry. This level of donation, however, is like nothing he’s ever seen before.
“Surprised. Stunned. Floored,” he said. “So many donations. We know it’s going to help a lot of people. That’s really exciting for us.”
Burrow transferred last year to LSU from Ohio State, where he was a sparingly used reserve. After finishing strong for the Tigers in 2018, he broke out this season, setting a Southeastern Conference record with 48 touchdown passes and leading top-ranked LSU (13-0) to its first College Football Playoff appearance.
Bright said this extra money could go to projects within the pantry.
“We have to make sure we stay true to our mission which is providing emergency food to people on a monthly basis. It will probably give us the opportunity to expand what we can provide each family,” said Bright.
Burrow’s victory was a foregone conclusion, but after he was announced as the winner it still overwhelmed him.
“That’s the most I’ve cried in 23 years of living,” Burrow said later.
The Tigers will face No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 28 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
“I’m ready to get back to Baton Rouge and start practice on Monday,” Burrow said.
Burrow, a senior, blended perfectly with first-year LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady and produced the most prolific offense in school history. Playing in a version of the offense Drew Brees runs for the New Orleans Saints, Burrow has shown accuracy and quick decision-making similar to his childhood idol. With at least one game left, Burrow has passed for 4,715 yards and is completing 77.9% of his passes, on pace to set an NCAA record.
The kid who grew up thinking he might play college basketball has blossomed into the possible first overall pick in April’s NFL draft, and LSU’s second Heisman winner.