Bo Jackson helped pay for the funerals of 19 children and two teachers killed in a school massacre in Ovaldi, Texas

AUSTIN, Texas – Former sports star Bo Jackson helped pay for the funerals of 19 children and teachers killed in the Ovald school massacre in May, revealing himself as one of the former anonymous donors who covered costs for families after one of its deadliest. Classroom shootings in US history.

Jackson, whose rare success in both the Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball made him one of the greatest and most marketable athletes of the 1980s and 1990s, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he felt compelled to support the families of the victims after his loss. many children.

Jackson, a father-of-three grandfather approaching 60, said, “I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older. It’s not appropriate for parents to bury their children. It’s not true.”

“I know every family out there is probably working their butts just to do what they do…the last thing they need is to shell out thousands of dollars for something that should never have happened.”

Jackson said he felt a personal connection to the city he had driven several times. Uvalde was a regular stop for food or groceries before a long drive west to visit a friend’s farm on hunting trips.

It was his knowledge of Ovaldi’s high street feel, leafy town square, and the people he met at those stations that touched his heart when news broke on May 24 of the shooting at Robb Elementary School. Law enforcement came under fire for taking more than an hour to enter the classroom where the 18-year-old gunman carried out the attack, and an investigative report from Texas House blamed the school district, saying a lax safety culture on intermittent alert as system and unlocked doors contributed .

Three days later, Jackson and his close friend flew to Ovaldi, met briefly with Governor Greg Abbott and presented a check for $170,000 with an offer to pay all funeral expenses.

Abbott announced his anonymous donation during a May 27 press conference about the state’s assistance to victims.

“We didn’t want the media,” Jackson said. “No one knew we were there.”

And while Jackson suggested he didn’t keep it a secret, he didn’t speak publicly about what prompted him to take a trip to Uvald and donate until this week.

“Ovaldi is a city that sticks in your mind. Name only,” said Jackson. “I don’t know a soul there. You just touched me.”

Jackson refused to name the friend he went with and also contributed the donation.

Since then, other fundraising efforts have raised millions to help families, and local funeral homes have said they will not charge families for services. But Jackson’s donation was an early springboard for grieving families.

Abbott’s office said Jackson’s money was “quickly channeled to cover funeral costs” through OneStar, a non-profit organization created to promote volunteerism and community service in Texas, including relief efforts in Uvalde.

“The true spirit of our nation is that Americans lift each other up in times of need and difficulty,” Abbott said. “In a truly selfless act, Poe covered all funeral expenses for the families of the victims so that they would have nothing to worry about while grieving.”

Jackson said he has followed news coverage of the funerals, but declined to say if he has been in direct contact with any of the families.

shooting day jackson tweeted“America…let’s stop all this nonsense. Please pray for all the victims. If you hear something, say something. We are not supposed to bury our children. I am praying for all the families across the country who have lost loved ones in shootings.” Foolish. This cannot continue.”

When Jackson was asked to explain “this can’t go on,” he refused, saying only that he wrote what he meant.

“I don’t want to turn this into anything [but] What is this. I was just trying [with the donation] “To put a little bit of sunlight in someone’s cloud, it’s a very dark cloud,” Jackson said.

But he also noted the regularity of mass shootings in the country.

“The last thing you want to hear is that there is an active shooter in your child’s school,” he said. “This is happening everywhere now.”

Uvalde wasn’t Jackson’s first large-scale philanthropic act. He hosts an annual bike ride in his home state of Alabama to raise money to fund disaster relief, an effort that began after hurricanes that killed nearly 250 people. Uvalde’s donation was his first in response to a mass shooting.

They’re the kids…they’re the kids…they’re the kids,” said Jackson, pausing before each iteration to collect himself. “If it doesn’t bother you, something is wrong.”

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