On Friday, May 18th, a teenage boy armed with his father’s guns killed 10 people and wounded an additional 10 at Santa Fe High School, located about 30 miles outside of Houston. Coming less than two weeks before the end of the school year, the shooting put a terrible cap on a very difficult year for the school’s 1,400 students. In September, Hurricane Harvey flooded the town and caused dozens of evacuations. In February, there was a shooting scare caused by a prank. And now this.
J.J. Watt, 28, was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2011, and ever since then has been a force for charity in the local area. His charitable organization, the Justin J. Watt Foundation, provides after-school athletic activities for students and holds an annual Charity Classic softball game in Sugar Land, Texas. He raised over $37 million for the community’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey, over a hundred times his initial goal of $200,000.
After the shooting, Watt tweeted a short, heartfelt reaction:
“Absolutely horrific,” he said.
A day later, on May 19th, the Texans confirmed that Watt would be paying for the funerals of all 10 shooting victims.
“On behalf of the Texans organization, we are saddened by the tragic events at Santa Fe High School this morning and extend our thoughts and heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families, and all those affected. We are grateful for the brave first responders, law enforcement officials, and medical personnel. The Texans family will continue to pray for our neighbors,” said the team in a released statement.
After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, Watt invited a number of affected families to the team’s field to hang out, loading them up with signed merchandise. He’s also hosted events for children orphaned in car crashes and visited children’s hospitals dressed as Batman. While he hasn’t any children of his own, it’s clear that children and their struggles loom large in his mind.