SAN ANTONIO – In mid-February, I interviewed Shea Serrano, a best-selling author and sportswriter who grew up and still lives in San Antonio.
We spoke about a $20,000 scholarship he and his wife Larami had just founded to help Latinx students pursuing a journalism degree.
The scholarship, which was donated to the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists, is called the Shea Serrano “Shoot Your Shot Scholarship.”
The phrase is a nod to the advice Serrano has given to his more than 370,000 followers on Twitter.
bang— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) February 12, 2020
The Shea Serrano Shoot Your Shot Scholarship is officially real 😭😭😭
larami and i are offering $5000 a year for the next for four years to one of my latinx homies out there who wants to go into journalism or publishing
go get that shit
we need your voice https://t.co/dRe7prUAD5
Naturally, if you have Shea on the phone, you shoot your shot and ask about a variety of other things.
We discussed the Spurs, working for the Ringer, podcasts and his new project, which he had just announced that morning titled, “Where do you think we are? Ten Illustrated Essays About Scrubs.”
I then asked about his ever-loyal fanbase, affectionately known as the “FOH Army.” FOH being an acronym similar to “GTFO."
He explained how no matter the situation, his followers have always come through. Whether it’s purchasing his books, essays or reading his work online and most important, helping others in need.
In 2017, Serrano and the FOH Army raised $134,000 for people who were left without homes, possessions and their belongings after Hurricane Harvey.
Serrano saw a need to help others and used the power of social media. As donations came in, Serrano became the middle man to get people immediate help.
Now faced with another crisis and in the midst of the worst economic downturn of our generation, Serrano has once again rallied the troops.
On March 12, Serrano sent a tweet that read, “F*** coronavirus / who has a bill coming up that they’re not sure they’re gonna be able to pay / send me your bill and your venmo.”
fuck coronavirus— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) March 13, 2020
who has a bill coming up that they’re not sure they’re gonna be able to pay
send me your bill and your venmo
Replies, screenshots of past due bills and donations began to pour in.
In just three days, Serrano and the FOH Army raised $10,000 for people struggling from the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s continued the charge. Every couple days or so, Serrano tweets he’s sending out cash to help pay bills.
People send him a screenshot of their bills and CashApp or Venmo information on Twitter. He sends the money directly with no questions asked.
Serrano says people are chosen at random and truthfully, he doesn’t know how long it will continue.
As of Monday night, Serrano and the FOH had raised more than $65,000 — at least that’s what he told me he’s been able to keep track or count himself.
While most people send him money directly and ask that he donate it to someone in need, others have been inspired to donate themselves.
He’s been tagged in various news and social media clips with people saying they were inspired by Serrano and started their own social media fundraisers. A tweet Monday read.
“Hey, @SheaSerrano we’re helping some library workers during this tough time, $250 no strings attached personal grants to library workers who have been let go or had their hours reduced.”
I go back to that interview, weeks before our world was flipped on its head. I asked Shea what’s been the biggest surprise from your followers?
“The biggest surprise is that they are just always game, always there to show up and try a thing or do a thing because that doesn't have to happen,” said Serrano. “I think sometimes people would take that for granted and say why don't you just have them do this or have them do that?”
“But every time that I sit down to do it, I’m nervous that it’s not going to work. But for me, that’s the biggest surprise. That it still works, that is as effective as it is,” said Serrano.
Those words rang as true then as they do today.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
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