REEDSVILLE — Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow may be from nearby Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, but there is one school district in Meigs County which held a special celebration this week in honor of Burrow.
Eastern Elementary School turned LSU “Purple and Gold” this week to celebrate along with Principal Robin Burrow, who is the mom of Heisman winner Joe Burrow.
“What a heartwarming welcome back! It was truly wonderful to have all of the staff and students together to celebrate a wonderful week of awards for Joe,” said Robin Burrow in an email to The Daily Sentinel.
“The local support from students, staff, Eastern parents, and really all of Southeast Ohio is absolutely overwhelming. We are so appreciative of the continued support for Joe after her transferred from Ohio State. He is very proud to say that he is from Southeast Ohio and has a genuine love for all of the people here,” added Burrow.
That love and pride for Southeast Ohio and its people were evident in Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech as he spoke of the challenges those in the area face.
“Coming from Southeast Ohio, it’s a very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average. There’s so many people there that don’t have a lot and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too,” said Joe Burrow during in his speech.
It was that statement that launched an online fundraising campaign to benefit the Athens County Food Pantry. As of Friday afternoon, the online fundraiser had collected more than $460,000 to benefit the food pantry.
“The response to his statements in his acceptance speech concerning the food insecurity for children in our area has been amazing,” said Robin Burrow. “We are currently working with local agencies to determine how best to use the funds that have been received. The Athens County Food Pantry has been working tirelessly to manage the outpouring of support and donations. Our family would like to thank everyone who has donated.”
“Joe spoke from his heart during his Heisman acceptance speech and now many people across the country are giving from their heart to help support our Region. It is truly amazing,” added Robin Burrow.
The LSU red-shirt senior quarterback had an extraordinary season, passing for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns (tying a Heisman record), while adding another 289 yard and three scores on the ground. He had a remarkable completion percentage of 77.9 percent, the best in Heisman history, according to the Heisman website. As the field general for the nation’s top offense, he led No. 1 LSU to a 13-0 record, the SEC title (its first since 2011), and its first berth in the College Football Playoff.
Robin Burrow, along with her husband Jimmy, other members of the family and friends, had spent last weekend in New York City for the events surrounding the Heisman Trophy presentation. The group stayed in hotels on Time Square, and for many it was their first experience in New York City. “Being among the hustle and bustle of the City and getting to experience the many historic sites was a dream come true for them,” said Robin Burrow. For the ceremony, the immediate family took their place in the Playstation Theater, while friends and family watched for a nearby private reception.
Robin Burrow explained the family’s Heisman experience and what it was like for them during their time in New York City.
“The Heisman is a tremendous honor. The entire experience in working with the Heisman Foundation and Committee while we were in New York was outstanding. We were privileged to meet many former Heisman winners such as Eddie George, Archie Griffin, Ty Dettmer, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, and many more. Having Joe in the same football fraternity as these previous winners is simply amazing,” said Robin Burrow.
“The entire night was simply amazing having Joe honored with the other finalists and among the company of the former Heisman winners was a truly humbling experience,” said Robin Burrow.
As for the moment when her son’s name was announced, Robin Burrow said there were many emotions.
“When Joe’s name was announced as the winner so many emotions and memories flooded my mind. This is truly his dream come true. It is something that he has dreamed of and worked for his whole life. Watching him give his acceptance speech made me the most proud I have ever been in my life. I am so happy that this media attention has allowed so many people to see his personality and kind soul. He is my pride and joy,” said Burrow.
The final event of Heisman weekend was the Heisman Gala on Sunday when Joe Burrow was once again recognized, as was Kristi Yamagushi for being the Humanitarian Heisman honoree this year for her work with Early Childhood Literacy.
“The entire experience was truly amazing and one that has given our family, our community, and our Region something to be proud of and to remember for the rest of our lives,” concluded Robin Burrow.
Burrow received an additional local honor on Thursday evening as the Athens City School District Board of Education announced it would be renaming its football stadium “Joe Burrow Stadium.” A formal event for the naming will be held at a later date.
Joe Burrow and his teammates will return to the field on Dec. 28 as the LSU Tigers face the Oklahoma Sooners in the College Football Playoff semi-final game at the Chikc-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Ga.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.