Using his platform as a prominent athlete, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt raised more than $15 million this week to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. It is the largest and fastest-growing charitable fundraiser in the ten-year history of crowdfunding, far exceeding the original goal of $200,000.
Watt launched the fundraiser after seeing the damage the hurricane caused in the greater Houston metropolitan area, and people from all over the country have pitched in to help the three-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year pass his ever-changing goal.
Circumstances aside, that's the kind of impact newest Ohio State commit L'Christian "Blue" Smith wants to make on the world. The four-star wide receiver from Huber Heights Wayne recently started his own foundation to help kids in his community.
"We were talking one time after he had done an interview I watched it on television and I told him, 'Now would be a good time to make an impact with other kids your age," Smith's dad, Lorenzo, told Eleven Warriors. "'You have a voice at your age. God gave you this talent and it would be a waste if you don't use it to give back to your community."
The two brainstormed ideas, and that's when the came up with the idea for the Blue5Print9 Foundation. And even though it's only been a reality for a few months, it's already changed the lives of several local kids.
The foundation hosted a school supply giveaway and donated cleats to football players at Jefferson High and shoes to a girl's basketball player at Dayton Dunbar who could not afford them.
After hearing about a local athlete having committed suicide, Blue made bracelets with the number for the suicide prevention hotline engraved on them. He also started Blue's Crew, a book-reading club for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade that will debut this school year.
Of course, none of it would be possible without the help of local groups and professionals who have donated to the cause.
"He's been taking some of the money from his T-shirt sales and using that, also," Lorenzo said.
The hope is that Blue's platform as Buckeye — once he gets to Columbus, of course — will only help the foundation expand, thus be able to help kids all over the country.
"It's one thing to help a lot of kids in your community, but then when you can branch out, that's something [special]," Lorenzo said.
In the week since Smith committed to Ohio State over Cincinnati and Kentucky, there has been an outpouring of support from Buckeye Nation. Not only congratulating him on his decision, but also asking him what they can do to help the Blue5Print9 Foundation.
"You and I know football is just a small part of your life," Smith said. "It's what you do with it that's going to tell a lot about your character."
If you want to buy a T-shirt or bracelet or make a donation to the Blue5Print9 Foundation, go to lchristianbluesmith.com.