The Tennessee Athletics department first posted the Go Fund Me for Vols guard Zakai Zeigler on Wednesday at 3:18 p.m. ET.
Thirty minutes later, the set goal of 50 thousand dollars had been hit. Tennessee fans were responding immediately to the Zeigler’s story and were showing their compassion with their wallets. Quickly into the evening, though, the fundraiser started to catch on around the sports world. And that’s when the number really started flying.
By 5:00 p.m. ET, the fundraiser was at more than 115 thousand dollars.
By 9:40 p.m. ET, the fundraiser was at more than 291 thousand dollars.
And now, at the time of this publication at 9:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, Zeigler’s fundraiser has hauled in an eye-popping, heart-warming, astounding 331 thousand dollars.
*UPDATE at 11:31 a.m. ET – The fundraiser is now north of $346,000*
*UPDATE at 6:04 p.m. ET – The fundraiser is still going and is now over $353,000*
Update: The fundraiser has resumed once again and the total has now climbed up to $353K
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) March 3, 2022
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“We have been absolutely blown away by the outpouring of support and generosity! Any contributions above and beyond our final losses/expenses will be donated to charity,” Zeigler responded on Wednesday night to the Go Fund Me. “Thank you to everyone who has given.”
The support and the kindness of the Tennessee fanbase have been on display since the news came down on Tuesday night. But, in a show of good sportsmanship and good morals, other fanbases in the SEC are rallying together in support of Zakai Zeigler and his family.
“Love from #BBN (Big Blue Nation),” Kentucky fan Davis responded to the tweet from Tennessee Basketball. “I couldn’t give much, but it’s better than nothing. So sorry to hear about this. Best wishes to Zeigler and his family.”
Additionally, the fanbase from Arkansas, Tennessee’s opponent this coming Saturday on the court, has also joined in.
“Even if the on-court and Twitter rivalries are strong, some things are bigger than sports,” OTHArkansas said on Twitter. “Help out if you can Razorback nation!”
But, with the connection that Zeigler has built with Vol Nation in the last few months, Tennessee’s fans have been the most vocal in support of their player. One of the cool features of Go Fund Me is the “Words of Support” section, a spot where users can comment words of encouragement to the organizer of the fundraiser – in this case, Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler, his mother Charmane Zeigler, and his extended family.
Here are some of the best comments from the “Words of Support” section:
Zakai Zeigler – Go Fund Me – Words of Support
“Just a small token to help you & your precious family. Your being a VOL has meant so much to all of us Tennessee fans. You are & will forever be one of our favs! My grandson loves watching you play! Keep being a great example for our youth on & off the floor!” Kimberly said.
“Ms. Zeigler, you have my family’s thoughts and prayers as you deal with your losses,” Steve said. “Hopefully this fundraiser will let you know the love and respect that our Vol Nation has for your son. I hope as you are dealing with all of the logistical issues that you will take a minute and give yourself a pat on the back for the way you have raised your son. He has done a tremendous job in representing my university.”
“I donated because this UT freshman has, as has been said, been “the heart and soul of our team.” His character, passion, and talent have been excellent throughout this year, on and off the basketball court. My donation is a small attempt to say “Thanks!” to this exceptional young man and VFL and to support him in the best way I know how at this time,” Cynthia said.
“What an incredible inspiration your family has been to our community,” Tim said. “May the Lord grant you favor as you recover from this personal tragedy. Thanks for sharing Zakai with us at UT and we have been blessed with his character, heart, passion and talent. He is a remarkable young man and certainly a blessing to your family and us all! Thank you for allowing us to contribute to your home rebuild. Blessings!”
“Hello from New Mexico, UT class of 1968. Zakai plays his heart out for the Vols. So glad I can give something back in this difficult time for his family,” Cheryl said.
“We wish you, your mom & nephew the best. You represent all that is great about college sports. We r so happy that VolNation is responding. Would love for your mother & nephew to be a part of our community,” Jessica and Terrill said.
“VOLS help VOLS!! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. VFL,” Jennifer said.
“Your work ethic is an incredible thing to watch… keep doing what you are doing and you will succeed at anything you try! You and your mom will get through this and be even stronger!!” Todd said.
“May God bless you and your family!! Volnation LOVES you and WILL stand by you and help any way we can!! #VFL #GBO #LUVMYVOLS,” Regina said.
“You not only have Vols Fans support, but support from around the country,” Graham said. “This Illinois fan, living in Tennessee, hopes this helps. GO ILLINI/VOLS.”
“Mrs. Ziegler, You son has brought much joy to VOL nation this year. I am so sorry for the horrible fire that has affected your family. God Bless you and your family. I am looking forward to Zamia spending a few more years here at UT,” Mark said.
“I am a Tennessee Volunteer, Native Son, and that is what Tennessee Vols do,” Ralph said. “When in need, we Volunteer ! May God Bless the Zeiglers !”
“ZZ has quickly won the hearts of the Big Orange Nation for his own heart, ability, drive, and effort,” Jason said. “We LOVE this kid! Tragedy do we all want to help even if only a small way. Prayers for the Zieglers, and Go Big Orange!”