|AP Photo | Matt Slocum|
For New England Patriots’ left tackle, Nate Solder, football is an outlet.
It is a chance to step away from the stresses and challenges in life and focus solely on the game.
Solder has been through a lot recently, but through it all, he has continued to be strong, dedicated and persistent in his profession. These characteristics are what helped him win the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award, as announced by the Patriots on Tuesday.
This award is named after the Baltimore Colts’ longtime head athletic trainer, and it recognizes those across the league who express great amounts of courage, sportsmanship and inspiration. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is devoted to helping abused, neglected and at-risk children. One member of each of the 32 NFL teams is selected each year.
For the last few years, Solder has gone through many challenges. In the 2014 season, he became a cancer survivor after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. The next year, he welcomed his son Hudson into the world. Then, at only three months old, Hudson was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, a cancer that starts in the kidney.
To overcome all of this takes a strong will and great support system.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Jesus for getting me through it,” Solder said, “A lot of times, I feel weak. Through my faith, he’s carried me through a lot of it. I’ve got a fantastic wife and fantastic family.”
|Nate with his wife Lexi and son Hudson | Photo courtesy of WEEI|
He also takes great pride in how the Patriots organization and his teammates are by his side through it all.
“Bill and the entire team have been really good at giving us the time we need,” Solder said, “If it’s a doctor’s appointment or whatever we’re doing when we need to be together. So, I’ve been able to make almost everything. Haven’t missed much of that. But there are definitely times when the thought of playing football is tough when you have so many other things weighing on your mind. I think in those moments, you remember that it’s not all about us. It’s not all about me and my suffering. There’s a group of guys here. There’s a team we represent. We move on together. Locking arms.”
Solder takes great pride in spreading strength and encouragement for those who have encountered personal adversity and hardships. He often volunteers his time to the Hockomock Area YMCA and its Integration Initiative program that supports children with special needs. And during the My Cause My Cleats campaign this season, Solder chose to represent the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, an organization that helps give financial aid to cancer patients and their families.
All of this has provided Solder with a new outlook on life and the game he loves.
“It levels the playing field for all of us because all of us are susceptible to cancer, disease, some of the tough things that so many people struggle with,” he said, “So you realize how lucky we are just to have our health and be able to play this game and just doing the things we love doing.”
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