An emotional Joe Burrow took to the stage at New York City’s PlayStation Theater Saturday night to accept the 2019 Heisman Trophy.
The Louisiana State University quarterback won in a record-breaking landslide, bringing the honor back to the bayou for the first time in 60 years.
Thanking his fellow teammates, coaches and past Heisman winners was high on the list during Burrow’s acceptance speech. But after pausing to collect himself, Burrow didn’t forget to mention his hometown ties.
“Coming from southeast Ohio, it’s a very, very impoverished area. The poverty rate is almost two times the national average,” Burrow said. “There are 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.”
Burrow’s speech highlighted food insecurity issues in Athens County and in turn sparked an online fundraising campaign that has raised thousands of dollars for a local food pantry.
A Facebook fundraiser, started by an Athens resident Sunday, has raised more than $108,000 as of Monday morning for the Athens County Food Pantry.
More than 3,100 people have donated to the campaign and more than 5,000 have shared it on social media.
The Athens County Food Pantry served 5,702 individuals in 2018, about a third of them children, according to its website. One in three people in Athens County fall below the poverty line.
Donations have flooded in from across the country, many commenting on their ties to the Athens High School Bulldogs, Buckeye Nation and LSU.
“The Tiger Nation is gonna make this go viral. It continues to grow exponentially. Merry Christmas and Geaux Tigers!” one man wrote.
Another wrote: “Wake up, Tiger Nation! Let’s give Athens back some of the joy they gave us.”
Sheridan Hendrix can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sheridan120.