Why Joe Burrow's Heisman Trophy speech changed lives

Joe Burrow is great on the gridiron. But Heisman Trophy winner made a more lasting contribution to thousands of hungry kids in Ohio. 

AP Photo/Jason Szenes
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow gave a moving speech at the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 in New York.

Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow won the prestigious Heisman Trophy this weekend. But what he did Saturday night was arguably way more impressive than anything he’s done on the gridiron.

With help from fans, he’s raised $430,000 for hungry kids in Ohio.

In accepting college football’s most coveted award, Mr. Burrow said this: 

“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.”

The speech prompted Athens resident Will Drabold to set up a fundraising page on Facebook. In three days, more than 12,000 people have donated funds to support the Athens County Food Pantry.

But perhaps more important than the money raised is the shift in attitudes among children living in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio. Mr. Drabold told the Columbus Dispatch that his wife, a teacher, said that one of her 3rd graders declared with pride “I go to the food bank.” This isn’t pride in hunger. Rather, it’s a child’s understanding that they aren’t defined by poverty. They can overcome it and help others, just like Mr. Burrows.  

And that, said Mr. Drabold, is the lasting gift: “None of these kids, who are in the same classrooms Joey was, will ever forget this.”

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