'I was just trying (with the donation) to put a little sunshine in someone's cloud, a very dark cloud,' the former sports star said.
NFL and MLB icon Bo Jackson covered all funeral expenses for the families of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the Uvalde school massacre in May "so they would have one less thing to worry about as they grieved," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed in a statement. Speaking to CNN, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said that the former sports star flew in and presented a check for $170,000 to Abbott after one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history. Jackson, whose donation was previously anonymous, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he felt compelled to support the victims’ families after the loss of so many children.
Bo Jackson helped pay for the funerals of 19 children and two teachers killed in the Uvalde school massacre:https://t.co/CceAPAmwd7— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 22, 2022
"I don't know if it's because I'm getting old," the father of three and a grandfather explained. "It's just not right for parents to bury their kids. It's just not right. I know every family there probably works their butts off just to do what they do... The last thing they needed was to shell out thousands of dollars for something that never should have happened." The 59-year-old revealed that he feels a personal connection to Uvalde as the city has been a regular stop for a bite to eat or groceries during long drives farther west to visit a friend's ranch on hunting trips.
Jackson, who was a football and baseball standout at Auburn University in Alabama, shared that his familiarity with Uvalde's Main Street, leafy town square and the people he'd met on those stops touched his heart when he heard about a gunman opening fire in Robb Elementary School on May 24. Three days after the 18-year-old gunman carried out the attack, Jackson and a close friend—who remains unnamed but is said to have also contributed to the donation—briefly met with Abbott and presented a check to cover all funeral expenses.
Former NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson revealed himself this week as having anonymously donated $170,000 to help cover funeral costs for the 21 people killed in May’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. https://t.co/2CfonONUdH— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 22, 2022
During a news conference on May 27 detailing the state's aid to victims, Abbott announced Jackson's donation as an anonymous gift. "We didn't want media," the former Heisman Trophy winner said. "No one knew we were there." Although Jackson admits he hasn't kept it a secret, he hadn't spoken publicly about what moved him to make the trip to Uvalde and the donation until this week. "Uvalde is a town that sticks in your mind. Just the name. I don't know a soul there. It just touched me," he said.
In his statement last week, Abbott praised the sports star for his donation. "The true spirit of our nation is Americans lifting up one another in times of need and hardship," the governor said. "We are truly grateful for the generosity of Texans and Americans like Bo Jackson, who have stepped up to help in the aftermath of the shooting at Robb Elementary School. When we asked people to support the Uvalde community in the days after, Bo did not hesitate in reaching out to my office to offer his help to the grieving families."
Jackson has previously addressed the Uvalde school massacre, tweeting on the day of the shooting: "America... let's please stop all the nonsense. Please pray for all victims. If you hear something, say something. We aren't supposed to bury our children. I'm praying for all of the families around the country who have lost loved ones to senseless shootings. This cannot continue." When asked to comment on the "this cannot continue" statement in his tweet, he said he wrote what he meant. "I don't want to turn this into anything (but) what it is. I was just trying (with the donation) to put a little sunshine in someone's cloud, a very dark cloud," Jackson said. However, he did address the increasing regularity of mass shootings in America. "The last thing you want to hear is there's an active shooter in your child's school. It's happening everywhere now," he said. "It's the children... It's the children... It's the children. If it doesn't bother you, something's wrong with you."