The big Houston Texans softball tournament at Minute Maid Park on Saturday wasn't the only charity function JJ Watt attended in the past few days. The Texans defensive end also joined up with the Mattress Firm team on Monday, May 15, where he spent the day stuffing 2,000 duffle bags full of essential items to support a healthy lifestyle for foster kids.
Inside the bags were water bottles, jump ropes, sunglasses and inspiring notes from volunteers for a Foster Fitness Fair at Mattress Firm's Houston "BEDquarters" (which, by the way, is one of the coolest office spaces you could imagine). The duffle bags were donated to Mattress Firm Foster Kids’ Houston nonprofit partners: Angel Reach, Child Advocates, Inc. and DePelchin Children’s Center.
Watt shot some hoops at Mattress Firm BEDquarters' basketball court and ran a tough obstacle course the staff created for him, showing off both his athletic skills as well as his recovery from back surgery last September. After a quick introductory speech, Watt went back to stuffing duffle bags and writing notes to the foster children who would be receiving them.
"Just walking around for the last hour, I’ve seen so many smiles. I’ve seen so many people excited; I’ve seen people having fun with each other," said Watt. "I’m sure for you guys that’s an everyday thing, but I’m just telling you that it’s not an everyday thing everywhere around the world."
Watt is one of two celebrity athletes collaborating with the initiative to help foster children. Olympic gold-medalist Simone Biles is the face of Mattress Firm Foster Kids, a program of the Ticket to Dream Foundation that hosts six annual collection drives globally to ensure that foster children have the resources they need to succeed. In the past, Mattress Firm has even collaborated with Ellen DeGeneres to volunteer at elementary schools in Los Angeles, which later aired as a segment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The Foster Fitness Fair was this year’s Give Big Day, a philanthropic event during Mattress Firm's annual leadership conference, termed BEDTalks, in which the company challenged all 1,200 BEDTalks participants to create online fundraisers aimed at raising over $150,000 for the Ticket to Dream Foundation, which provides extra-curricular activities like sports, music, and dance to foster kids. Mattress Firm did more than just meet their high goal, however; thanks to Watt, they surpassed it, raising a total of $156,639.