Athens, Ohio (WCMH) – December 14, 2019 Joe Barrow won the Heisman Trophy. During it reception speechhe spent 31 seconds talking about his hometown of Athens, Ohio, and the food security that people in this community face every day.
“I didn’t really expect anything to happen,” Barrow shared years later, reflecting on Heisman’s speech. “I was just saying what was on my head and on my heart and it turned into a big deal that helped a lot of people.”
“This is a speech that will live on for years to come,” said Karin Bright, president of the Athenian County Food Chamber. “A child who cared enough about his community to actually cry about it and share what he saw as what needed to be said.”
“I am here for all those children in Athens and the county of Athens who go home when there is not much food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be here too. ”
-Jo Barrow hosts the Heisman Trophy
Almost immediately after Barrow delivered Haysman’s speech, fundraising started for the Athens County Food Chamber – and the money poured in, about $ 650,000.
In a few months, Joe Barrow’s Hunger Relief Fund gathered together.
Since then, Bright has said the food pantry has been fortunate enough to move on to what she calls a “model never comes out”.
“Like any other pantry in the area, if you gave away what you had planned, you were done. We changed that, “Bright said.” We make sure we always have food. “
At the time, no one knew how critical this concept would be.
“These were the best times, these were the worst times, really very appropriate,” Bright said with a sigh. “We have reached such a height! Damn it! What can we do with all this! Boom! ”
That’s when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Thanks to additional funds from donations after Burrow’s speech, the food pantry was able to keep up with the extra need, even by joining the help of school districts across the district, whose students depend on school lunches.
At the same time, attention to the food pantry continues to grow as Barrow has increasing success on the football field. After Bengals Wild Card victoryfans began donating $ 31 to the food pantry in honor of Cincinnati’s first NFL playoff victory in 31 years.
In addition, Barrow has participated in the NFL for the past two years “My business, my shoes” the company, collecting even more donations by auctioning off its specialized spikes in favor of the Athens County Food Chamber.
Thanks to all his financial efforts, there is one more thing that Barrow gave to his community, less tangible but no less important: the confidence that help can be sought.
“Growing up, we knew kids who had to go to the food bank because they didn’t have that many, but no one really talked about it,” Barrow explained, referring to this year’s My Cause My Cleats campaign. “I’ve heard stories from teachers who say young children come up to them when they hear [the Athens Food Pantry] and they said, “Hey! My family goes to the food bank, they love it! That was not where they tried to hide it. “
“It’s become safe to talk about it, and people have come to us who have become a safe place to come and get food because, well, Joe Barrow talked about it, so we can go and get food,” Bright said with a smile. “Thirty-one seconds has changed so much and we’re still talking about it. It will be a speech by Heisman that will be remembered by future generations. “