FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- For his devotion to helping others and the inspiring strength he shows in tackling obstacles both on and off the field, Nate Solder has been named the New England Patriots 2016 Ed Block Courage Award winner, the team announced today.
Named for the longtime head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian, the award recognizes NFL players who demonstrate commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients of the annual award are selected from each of the NFL's 32 teams based solely on a vote by their teammates.
No matter the size of the challenges he has faced, Solder's dedication to his team and his community has never wavered. After beating testicular cancer during the 2014 offseason, the veteran left tackle went on to start every game of the Patriots Super Bowl Championship season. In 2015, he started the first four games of the season, but suffered a torn biceps muscle at Dallas and missed the rest of the season on injured reserve. The injury was a professional setback, but in many ways personal blessing, as it gave he and his wife, Lexi, an opportunity to focus on a much more important issue that was discovered just weeks after suffering that season-ending injury. That is when the couple learned that Hudson, their infant son, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor in his kidneys. The couple have gained strength through their faith to help Hudson in his fight and have tried to positively impact other families, like theirs, while dealing with similar setbacks.
Aside from using his professional platform to spread strength and awareness stemming from personal hardships, Solder has been a prominent supporter of the Hockomock Area YMCA. He often volunteers his time to the organization's many programs and events including the Y's Integration Initiative, which supports children with special needs.
During the NFL's 2016 My Cause My Cleats initiative, Solder joined players across the league in creating custom-made game cleats to wear during Week 13 competition, reflecting their commitment to various charitable causes. His hand-painted footwear was designed to raise awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, founded by the former Patriot offensive lineman to help give financial aid to cancer patients and their families.
Solder joins current teammates Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon as well as the likes of Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi as some of the most recent Patriots to receive this honor. The 39th annual Ed Block Courage Awards will be held on March 9 at the Renaissance Hotel-Inner Harbor in Baltimore.
For more information on the Ed Block Courage Award, please visit http://edblock.org/.