Joe Burrow Foundation helps family find hope
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Joe Burrow’s big plays impact every game day for the Bengals, but perhaps his biggest impact comes off the field through his foundation.
The young Bengals star started the Joe Burrow Foundation with the help of his parents to provide resources and support to those in need.
Recently, the foundation covered the costs of 20 families receiving mental health treatment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
One of those 20 families was the Richardson family.
The last text Mary Richardson and Larry Richardson ever received from their son still beams in their memory like a light in a dark room.
“He sent us a text saying, ‘I love you,’” Mary recalls. Larry explained, “That was the last text I got from him.”
Their 20-year-old son, Luke Richardson, died of suicide.
“Unfortunately, we missed some of the signs, but he hid a lot of that from us, too, because he didn’t want us to worry,” Mary says of her son.
Luke was always going.
The second youngest of nine kids, he found ways to make his mark.
Sometimes that meant pranking Mom; other times it was racing down a football field to score a touchdown for Talawanda.
He was loved by many but maybe loved most by his younger sister, Grace Richardson.
Grace is the youngest of the Richardson bunch.
“I don’t think I went to school for about a month or so,” Grace says. “Couldn’t get myself to do much.”
Without Luke always going, life just stopped until Grace, an eighth-grader at the time, had a breakdown.
“It didn’t feel real,” Gracie describes of the heartache. “There was still that spot where it felt like nothing was filling it.”
The Luke-shaped hole would never be filled.
But the healing began with conversations between parents Larry and Mary about Grace receiving mental health support at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“Larry and I did everything we could, but we were in such grief,” Mary explains. “I knew we were missing things she needed.”
Grace got that support, and a few months later, the family received a phone call.
That is where Joe Burrow enters the picture.
His foundation learned about Grace and how she lost her brother Luke.
They offered to cover all of the expenses.
“For our daughter to know that someone like Joe Burrow cares about her, it has been a huge gift for her,” Mary says. “It’s really cheered her up.”
“Heartwarming that a big figure like Joe Burrow would care about a small-town girl that lives here in the middle of nowhere,” Grace explains.
Almost out of nowhere, Burrow’s impact hit the Richardson family like a hurricane.
It willed them to do something now.
Luke lives on a farm in Oxford, Ohio, with an Oak Tree planted in his memory.
He is forever in their hearts.
Forever on their minds in so many different things they see every day inside the house.
The way they honor Luke the most is by sharing a new message with anyone who will listen.
Mary says she hopes Burrow and his family realize how much their foundation has meant to them.
Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can call or text the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or 800-273-8255 any time day or night, or chat online athttps://988lifeline.org/chat/.
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