New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife Brittany have donated a whopping amount of $5 million of their very own personal wealth, to the state of Louisiana for the purpose of helping to provide relief for citizens who are having trouble with paying for their own meals during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
The future NFL Hall of Famer announced the donation on his personal Instagram account, with a photo of the outline of the state of Louisiana that has a fleur-de-lis along with the word “Home” superimposed on it.
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Brittany and I are committing $5,000,000 to the State of Louisiana in 2020. The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time. After considerable research and conversations with local organizations, we will be mobilizing our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana for as long as it takes to children on meal programs, seniors, and families in need. Let’s all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together.
Brees — who just last week signed a new 2-year, $50 million contract in NFL Free Agency that most League observers and analysts expect to be the final two seasons of his brilliant NFL career — said in the Instagram post that he and his wife will be partnering with several local-area restaurants, along with a food bank, a local non-profit health system, and a state-based food delivery service which will provide up to at least 10,000 meals a day for those in need.
Additionally, he stated in the post that they plan on continuing those efforts on a consistent basis, for an undetermined amount of time that will last “for as long as it takes.”
As Louisiana health officials have informed the general public within the past few days, the state and the metropolitan NOLA area specifically are now believed to be the next current major “hot spot” within the United States for the spread of the COVID-19 sickness. In fact, in recent days the state has received an overwhelming amount of positive test results for the coronavirus, which has risen from 100 to over 1,000 in the span of only a week.
As of today, there now have been 2,305 individual cases of COVID-19 state-wide, with unfortunately 83 of those that have resulted in deaths; particularly among the elderly ages 70 and over. Additionally, there now have been 53 parishes out of the total of 64 within Louisiana, that have been confirmed locations of the dreaded coronavirus.
Under the direction of those same health officials and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, restrictions have been put into place that asks citizens to remain “sheltered in place” within their homes; and the money that will now be given by the Brees Family should come as a huge help for those affected most.
While the donation clearly is just more evidence of his never-ending generosity and particularly for social issues that are near and dear to his heart — today’s events are even more so indicative of just how much the local NOLA community and the entire state of Louisiana in general — have come to mean over the years to the man who has become a “living legend” among the native populace.
Brees and his family have been in NOLA (and the state of Louisiana) now since March of 2006, and for all the time that they have spent living in the local area, what he has given back to the state and the local community in return, is absolutely immeasurable.
Any loyal ‘Who Dat’ fan will recall that the city of New Orleans and the surrounding region were literally “left for dead” in September of 2005 following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. And it goes without saying that Brees single-handedly was as responsible for the NOLA community’s eventual rebirth and recovery as anyone.
Very easily, the now 41-year old Brees could have opted or chosen to play football down in the friendly and inviting tropical climate of South Florida for the Miami Dolphins, who during that time some 14 years ago were the leading candidates to land his services as their next “franchise quarterback”.
But instead, he ultimately came to a team that had only won three games the year before (the Saints were 3-13 in the 2005 season). What’s more, the team was going to play its games in a city virtually destroyed by one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history.
And yet, nevertheless he still chose New Orleans, and for the past 14 years his presence (and that of his growing family) has been a tremendous blessing for both the Saints franchise and its passionately-devoted fan-base as well.
It’s here in NOLA where all four of Brees’ children have been born (and raised so far) in New Orleans. All three of his sons attend elementary school in the uptown part of the city, and 5-year old daughter Rylen will be joining them in the not-too-distant future.
Undoubtedly, Brees and his wonderful family have developed a bond and “connection” to the city, a loving relationship between player and community that was formed over a decade ago; after he saw the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina.
Based on today’s generous donation in this most dire time of need within our state and all of its various local municipalities, it’s rather clear that the bond remains permanently intact.
In the past decade plus, Drew Brees and his family have become as much a part of NOLA and the entire state of Louisiana, as they have become a part of him. And his notable act of kindness is a testament and a true reflection of his greatness….
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius