Joe Burrow was awarded the Heisman Trophy on December 14, 2019 for his performance at Louisiana State University. This is the second time for an LSU football player to be bestowed this honor and the first time in 60 years. In Burrow’s acceptance speech he spoke of the need his home town faces when it comes to food insecurity. Burrow stated, “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.”
Although this statement was only a small part of his speech, the public acted on the national issue of food insecurity. Soon after Burrow’s speech, a fundraiser emerged on social media for the Athens County Food Pantry. At a rate of $1,000 an hour, donations started to soar. The administrator of the Facebook Fundraiser, Will Drabold, posted: “’Tiger Nation” has asked that the goal be raised to $50,000. Challenge accepted. Have at it, Louisiana!”
In only 24 hours after this post, the donations reached over $250,000. This inspired Baton Rouge community member, Lindsey Heck, to start a Facebook Fundraiser of her own for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. The original goal of the new fundraiser was for Heck’s family and friends to match their donations made to Athens County Food Pantry. However, Facebook users from around the nation, including those in Athens, began to match their donations as well.
In the two weeks the fundraiser for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was open, $68,663 was raised in honor of Joe Burrow and the “Tiger Nation.” This donation can equate to 205,989 meals to help feed food insecure individuals in our 11-parish service area. “This was the most amazing and inspiring thing I’ve ever had the privilege to take part in. I can’t even wrap my head around how big this turned out,” stated Heck. “The inspiring words of Joe Burrow has greatly impacted two communities and helped shed light on the poverty and access to food in both.”
Louisiana has always been known to use food as a means to happiness and love. However, this fundraiser was a perfect example of just how motivated a community can become to feed those in need from the actions of just one individual.