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Texan Tara Roderick unexpectedly lost her father, Jerry, a day after Father’s Day. Her family had been struggling for weeks to come up with the funds to lay him to rest. They held bake sales, plate sales, created a Facebook donation page, created a GoFundMe, and posted Cashapp links, hoping people would share and help the family pay for the costly service.
Roderick’s niece Jennifer Simpson eventually had to start selling her valuables on social media, items she said, “mean something to me.” She’s an obvious Houston Texans fan, and had a pair of women’s JJ Watt Reeboks (originally retailed for $99.99) up for grabs for $60. She tweeted that “they are great shoes,” and that she was only selling them to help fund the funeral. Alongside the shoes, Simpson also had a JJ Watt jersey for sale.
A mere 20 minutes after Simpson listed the items for sale, JJ Watt found the tweet. Watt responded with a relieving message: “Don’t sell your shoes and jersey, we’ll help with the funeral. I’m sorry for your loss.” Simpson was shocked, to say the least, and called her aunt with the great news. “I called her a liar,” Roderick admits. “I told her ain't nobody famous gonna respond to you.”
Much to Roderick’s surprise, the NFL defensive end quickly sent over a large part of the needed funds through PayPal. “For him to step up and help us, it lifted a burden off of us,” Simpson confesses. Soon after, many others were asking how they could help. She tweeted, “I posted last night trying to sell valuable items to raise money. I woke up overwhelmed by the love and support of people who don’t even know my grandpas story. My family is so grateful for you all!” She provided supporters with links to payment apps that they could donate to.
Inadvertently, a kind act has now sparked a conversation online on how costly funerals are and what families have to do to afford them. Simpson had created two GoFundMe campaigns and listed a couple different totals, causing some to call into question how much was actually required. In response to those asking for more information, she gave the contact information for the funeral home that was holding the service for her grandfather. Eventually, she tweeted a long form explanation of her family’s financial situation. Someone responded, “You shouldn't have to explain.. Funerals are crazy expensive.. Buried my father last month. Cost $11k and we already had the plot and headstone.” Simpson replied, “We didn’t have anything. Have to pay for funeral services and then pay for plot separate.”
The median cost for a funeral and viewing in America is $7,848, and that doesn’t take into consideration other expensive costs, such as embalming, a casket, service fees, use of facilities/staff, a cemetery plot, and printed materials. It’s no doubt that the price to honor a loved one who has just passed can be financially detrimental, and it’s not hard to believe that a teacher, such as Simpson, had a hard time coming up with the funds.
On July 27, Simpson tweeted that the funeral was fully paid for and she “couldn’t have done it without the help of [JJ Watt] and all of you wonderful people!!” The family stopped accepting donations at that point. Simpson reflected on all of the support she received: “These people don't know us or our story. They don't know what we've been going through this last month. It reminds me there is good in the world.”
A Texan schoolteacher named Jennifer Simpson unexpectedly lost her grandfather a day after Father’s Day.
Her family did all they could to try and come up with the funds to afford to lay him to rest.
Simpson eventually turned to selling valuable items that “mean something” to her, like her JJ Watt merchandise.
I have a pair of @JJWatt womens edition of Reebok shoes size 9 $60. I’ve worn them twice. They are great shoes, im only selling because we are raising money for my grandpas funeral. I also have a Watt womens XL Texans Jersey $30. Anyone interested? pic.twitter.com/USt90n221H
— Jennifer Simpson (@JSimpson2014) July 21, 2022
A mere 20 minutes after Simpson listed the items for sale, Watt himself responded with relieving news—she could keep her items and he would help with the costs.
Don’t sell your shoes and jersey, we’ll help with the funeral.
I’m sorry for your loss.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 21, 2022
Due to the defensive end’s act of kindness, the family was able to fully fund the funeral services by July 27.
My grandpas funeral is paid in full!! We will schedule a date as soon as possible!!
I couldn’t have done it without the help of @JJWatt and all of you wonderful people!!
As of right now, all donations are STOPPED 🛑
— Jennifer Simpson (@JSimpson2014) July 27, 2022