A drawing of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow at Nelson Court at Ohio University.

Former Athens quarterback Joe Burrow starts foundation targeting food insecurity and Mental Health

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Joe Burrow has quite the CV.

In Athens, he led the Bulldogs to a state title game in 2014 while shattering numerous Ohio passing records.

Then after a spell at Ohio State, he transferred to LSU, where one of college football’s greatest stories was born. Burrow completed 76.3 percent of his passes for 5,671 yards and 60 TDs in his senior season, en route to winning a Heisman trophy and a national title with the Tigers.

But Burrow has made his impact felt off of the football field. In many ways, for the people of Southeast Ohio, what he has done off the field is more important than his success on it.

In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Athens High alumnus Joe Burrow celebrates being chosen first by the Cincinnati Bengals
In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Athens High alumnus Joe Burrow celebrates being chosen first by the Cincinnati Bengals with his father Jim during the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 23, 2020. [NFL via AP]
He was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he has led the franchise to a division title, a first playoff win in 30 years, and a Super Bowl appearance in his first 2 seasons.

During his acceptance speech for the Heisman trophy in January 2020, an emotional Burrow brought national attention to the Athens Hunger Relief Fund, which was renamed in his honor. As donations rolled in, Joe’s impact was felt by his hometown more than ever.

Karin Bright, president of the Athens County Food Pantry, was watching the speech along with the rest of the 740.

Athens County Food Pantry Outreach Chair Karin Bright packs a box of canned goods. [Anastasia Nicholas | WOUB]
“I teared up,” Bright said. “I grew up here, my family’s from here, I know people who have been in that situation. I turned to my husband and said, ‘That was memorable.'”

The next day, the fundraisers started.

Over the course of a couple weeks, Burrow’s speech raised over $1.8 million dollars for the Athens County Food Pantry.

The impact was felt by nobody more than Burrow, who saw and knew the impact he could have on others. And he wanted to keep it going.

On Oct. 4, Joe and his parents Jimmy and Robin announced the Joe Burrow Foundation.

Jimmy is excited to begin the work to help in the communities that matter.

“It’s going to be a group effort,” said Burrow. “Our goal is to provide resources and opportunities for the underserved and underprivileged.”

Quarterback Joe Burrow (pictured) was emotional during his Heisman acceptance speech in January 2020

The foundation is already up and running. Its first act will be to pay for 20 families in Cincinnati that need mental health services for their children and cannot currently afford it.

The goals of the foundations are to continue the fight against hunger as well as helping with children’s mental health.

On the new website for the foundation, on the front page is a quote from Burrow.

“Everyone has a responsibility to do good,” he said.