USO Houston, Houston Texans Team Up to Thrill Military Kids
Thursday, January 10, 2013
By Christian Pelusi
The essence of “community” is having fellow citizens that look out for one another, supporting each other in hard times and celebrating together in good times. Houston’s denizens have been enjoying a playoff run by their NFL Texans and the franchise has made sure that it is doing its part in providing extra thanks and attention to military families by teaming with USO Houston.
USO Houston and the Houston Texans have connected two of their programs to provide military children and their families with activities that have generated lasting memories. USO Houston’s Lead. Excel. Achieve. Dream. (L.E.A.D.ers) program and the team's Texans All Community Team (TACT) are putting the city's youth at the forefront of their community building efforts with great results.
L.E.A.D.ers focuses on Houston-area school-aged children who have at least one parent in the military and is a conduit for kids to make friends and build self-esteem through organized activities.
“[L.E.A.D.ers] has enabled military families to connect with other military families throughout the greater Houston Area,” wrote USO Houston Programs Manager Anna Charles in an email. “Lets them know there are others just like them, going through some of the same things they are experiencing. Through sports, cookie decorating, fun and laughter, it allows these kids to relax, have fun and enjoy the company of other military children.”
Enter the Houston Texans, whose TACT ticketing program makes game day experiences possible for kids and families who might not normally be able to enjoy such an event. Texans players sponsor particular groups and USO Houston has been fortunate enough to have Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt as its sponsor.
On Dec. 16, the L.E.A.D.ers military families attended the Texans’ 29-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, which only added to their memorable afternoon. The group also held the Texas state flag on the field during the singing of “Texas Our Texas” along while taking part in other special behind-the-scenes experiences.
“The best part was, of course, being on the field,” Charles said. “But I must say, we had about 45 minutes of downtime and it was really cool to see those kids playing around with their parents. They got excited when Toro, the Texans’ mascot, would come by and the adults were talking with the Texans Ambassadors [former Houston Texans and Houston Oilers players] and taking lots of pics with them. Overall, just a neat and cool experience.”
The game day ticket program is just one example of the coordination that USO Houston and the Texans enjoy throughout the year.
“The relationship has been wonderful this season,” Charles said. “We have been included in many other events aside from football, to include concerts and also college football like the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, which we [were] given 1000 tickets from troops and families. They have been extremely receptive to our invitations to support our events and deployments.”
See more images from USO Houston’s Dec. 16 visit to Reliant Stadium.
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Photo captions: Some L.E.A.D.ers pose in front of Reliant Stadium; Pro Bowler J.J. Watt takes the field. (Photo credit: USO Houston.)
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