NFL fan honors Dwayne Haskins’ life with hundreds of animal rescue donations

Vet Amber Burton’s phone has been ringing this weekend.

Donation notification after notification is steadily flowing.

“A very talented man and role model has gone by very soon,” one donor wrote to Wolf Trap Animal Rescue, which is now founded and operated by Burton.

Another wrote: “Dwayne was always a ray of sunshine and his smile could light up a room.” “RIP. Oh!”

Letters, and financial support for the Northern Virginia Animal Rescue and Adoption Agency, keep pouring in. By late Tuesday afternoon, 299 donors netted $6,491.54 to the nonprofit, according to data Burton shared with USA TODAY Sports. The outflow was approximately 430% of the typical donation amount during the period.

The donors’ intentions, through tribute notes and token donation amounts, are clear: They want to honor the life of NFL quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins died Saturday morning after being hit by a dump truck while crossing the Florida highway on foot. He was 24 years old. The 15th overall pick for the 2019 NFL Draft was in Florida working with his fellow Pittsburgh Steelers, who signed Haskins in January 2021 after Washington released him.

During his NFL career, Haskins played in 16 games, starting with 13 for Washington, completing 60.1% of passes for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also rushed 40 times for 147 yards and touchdowns.

When news of the tragedy broke on Saturday, NFL fans across social media wondered: How could they honor Haskins’ life in his death? What positivity can they create from this amazing reality? They turned to Google and then to social media platforms.

Before long, users on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit were encouraging donations to Wolf Trap Animal Rescue (WTAR), and benefactor Haskins chose to support in 2019 through the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative. The then-rookie Haskins said his dogs “make my day a little brighter.” “Lots of dogs need homes, and being able to have a dog and a companion in your life will definitely bring you some happiness.”

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Dwayne Haskins served as a backup for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2021 NFL season.

The team said Haskins designed blue and green cleats with the organization’s logo and a sketch of his two-year-old Doberman child, Roscoe, for the occasion.

WTAR rescues high-risk animals from euthanasia, neglect and abuse, primarily from densely populated areas of Mississippi. Since its inception in May 2015, employees have rescued, treated and found adoption homes for more than 11,500 animals, including more than 9,000 dogs and puppies. The group also partnered with the Washington NFL team to offer dog treats in 2019, after which Haskins and then-Washington defensive lineman Matt Iannidis chose WTAR as the fencing beneficiaries. Troy Apky Washington Safety has continued to work with the organization, even adopting a dog that was rescued from them.

However, the flow of donations this weekend looked different. NFL fans who donated from the last Haskins team, the Pittsburgh Steelers — “I was rooting for you as a rookie” — the Baltimore Ravens — “that’s bigger than football” — and the benevolent Buffalo Bills fan base flocked to charity, at least 30 of whom donated after the galvanizing effort. Including the Bills forum on Reddit.

Ohio State fans, for whom Haskins threw 54 touchdowns to nine interceptions in two seasons, also participated.

“I hope he will be remembered both for his heroics on and off the field,” wrote one donor, while another thanked Haskins for “being the best you can be for your audience.” RIP, we will miss you. “

Burton and her colleagues appreciated the donations, many of which reflected multiples of 7 and 3, and his shirt numbers in Ohio, Washington and Pittsburgh. As of late Tuesday afternoon, donations could still fund 64 pets, 259 essential life-saving vaccines, or 649 pet food at the nursery, according to the organization’s funding structure.

I dwarfed the usual donations of $6,491.54, which Burton estimates to be between $10 and $15 in a typical similar period. One donor wrote that they hoped the money could “help with the work that[Haskins]cared about in honor of his life.”

Burton said the money will.

“Rescue organizations can only operate on the basis of donations that come in and we can only save the many animals that we have supporters for,” she said. “It means a lot and speaks to a lot of people and how giving and caring and supportive they are to their community. When someone like Dwayne or Troy or any of these NFL players get involved, it shows the depth of their character.

“This is something we will never forget.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dwayne Haskins’ death inspires animal rescue donors

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