Zakai Zeigler Closes Fundraiser, Thanks Tennessee Fans in Statement

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    Less than a week ago, Tennessee freshman point guard Zakai Zeigler received some life-changing news. In the following hours into the night after Tennessee’s win over Auburn last Saturday, Zeigler’s family residence that he grew up in, located in Long Island, NY, burned to the ground.

    Zakai Zeigler: Tennessee Fans Show Outpouring of Love for Zakai Zeigler In No Time

    In the days after the tragedy, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes, the Vols’ coaching staff, and the Tennessee players rallied around their guy. Veteran leaders John Fulkerson and Josiah-Jordan James spoke on Tuesday after the Georgia game about having their brother’s back to do whatever they need to do, whenever they need to do it.

    The SEC Network broke the story on Tuesday night during that same game, and immediately, Tennessee fans sprung into action. Vol fans tuning into the game and on social media were eager to help out – whether it be with their wallets or through words of encouragement – and they did.

    On Wednesday, with the support of the Tennessee Athletics Department, Zeigler launched a “Zeigler Family Fire Relief and Recovery” GoFundMe.

    Tennessee fans’ response to the fundraiser paved the way for the rest of the country to see what was happening. Quickly into the fundraiser’s launch, after Tennessee fans flew past the original set goal of 50,000 dollars in just about half an hour, other fanbases around the country started to catch on. Messages and donations from Kentucky fans, Arkansas fans, and more started to flood in once the word began to spread.

    While the fundraiser is still currently active as of Friday morning, Zeigler did say on Thursday that the fundraiser would be closing down.

    Currently, the fundraiser has raised more than 361,000 dollars since Wednesday afternoon.

    “My mom and I can’t begin to express how much love and gratitude we have for Vol Nation and everyone who has contributed,” Zeigler said in a statement through the University. “The outpouring in less than 24 hours has been overwhelming and we have closed the fundraiser. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who donated and kept our family in your prayers. We’ll be back on our feet soon and we’ll never forget the love and generosity of Vol Nation!”

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    As the fundraiser was originally taking off into the stratosphere on launch day, Zakai Zeigler also gave a thank you message to the donors and fans on Wednesday as well.

    “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 said via the GoFundMe. “Thank you to everyone who has given.”

    Watching what the Tennessee fanbase was able to kick-start… watching the support for this young man and his family from other “rival” fanbases in the South… watching more than 361,000 dollars raised in less than 48 hours… is truly nothing short of remarkable.

    Sports are good for the soul.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.