Offensive lineman Nate Solder and the New York Giants kick off their 2018 season with a home game this Sunday against Jacksonville. It will mark Solder’s first NFL game not wearing a New England Patriots jersey.
After seven years of protecting Tom Brady’s blindside, the left tackle signed a four-year, $62 million contract to protect Eli Manning in New York. The deal made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
But it wasn’t an easy decision to leave New England, where Solder developed bonds and relationships that will last a lifetime. “I thank God for those men,” Solder wrote in a piece for the Players’ Tribune, in which he detailed some of the prayer meetings and team Bible studies that highlighted his time as a Patriot.
Yet he chose the Giants in large part to be in New York with great access to the medical care his 3-year-old son, Hudson, needs to battle Wilms’ tumor, a rare kidney cancer that affects about 25 infants per year in the United States. Hudson was diagnosed at 3 months old.
Serving the New England community was big on Solder’s priority list, as it will be in New York as well — even if that means not literally in New York. Before even attending training camp as a Giant, Solder joined a group of Giants on a trip to Puerto Rico to aid in the country’s recovery from Hurricane Maria. The storm hit on Sept. 20, 2017, and left $90 billion in damage. Ninety-five percent of the island lost electricity, fewer than 50 percent had drinking water, and thousands were left homeless.
Eight months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, a group of #NYGiants visited the island to witness the recovery efforts firsthand with the non-profit organization, @Americares. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 4, 2018
“This is something I wanted to do for a long time,” Solder told the Giants’ website. “Coming to Puerto Rico, you hear so much about it. These people become forgotten. With current trends, if something isn’t popular or immediate, then we forget about it. I don’t want these people to feel like we’ve forgotten about them, because there’s plenty of people who haven’t. I’m very thankful that I got this opportunity.”
The Giants toured the island with Americares, a Connecticut-based non-profit and global health and disaster response organization that was working in Puerto Rico, even before Maria struck. Since their founding in 1979, Americares has delivered more than $15 billion in medical aid and innovative health programs to 164 countries, including the U.S. The Giants and the New York Giants Foundation have supported the organization for more than two decades, including a donation of $400,000 last fall as part of a $1 million towards hurricane relief.
The trip was also personal for Solder, who has a cousin that works as a freelance boat captain in Puerto Rico.
“When you hear so much about Puerto Rico, and the things that they’ve gone through and when you can actually see it and you can meet the people, a term that I’ve definitely repeated a million times since I’ve been here is resiliency,” Solder told the Giants’ site. “It’s been amazing to be here. You have so many perceptions on TV. You get to know the people and how hard they’re working and how much they care about each other. It’s been great, and I’m glad that we’ve had a little opportunity to give back. So much of what we have can be shared and a little bit here makes a big impact.”
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