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Former NFL player Chris Long donates to improve Navajo Nation water access

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 25: Chris Long #56 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during warmups before the game against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on November 25, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Former NFL defensive end Chris Long and his foundation have pledged $100,000 to improve water access on the Navajo Nation, according to a press release.

The money will go toward DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project, which is Indigenous-led and staffed.

The project installs solar-powered, 1,200-gallon water systems in the grounds of homes that are serviced and refreshed with clean water.

The donation from Long’s foundation, called the Hometown H20 program, will allow for 200 temporary systems of 275 gallons each to be placed in remote Navajo Nation homes before the permanent systems are installed once coronavirus protocols are relaxed.

It is estimated that more than 30% of residents in the Navajo Nation do not have water at home, according to the press release. The communities in the Navajo Nation have been hit hard by the pandemic, leading to shutdowns and curfews to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Tribal Department of Health officials said on Tuesday that 7,941 people on the vast reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive with 379 known deaths.

Long and his wife, Megan, will donate $50,000, while his foundation will match the other half of the initial gift. He hopes his efforts raise awareness, and public donations for the project can be made at waterboys.org/hometown.

“Everyone in America deserves access to water, but many rural and Indigenous families lack even one faucet with running water in their homes, a necessity most of us take for granted – especially during this pandemic,” Chris Long said in a release.

Long and DigDeep founder George McGraw scheduled an Instagram Live conversation on Thursday at 4 p.m. MST to discuss the initiative. Supporters and fans can watch Long’s and DigDeep’s feeds to learn more.

Long is a two-time Super Bowl champion who played for the St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles from 2008-2018.