Gentle giant

A new face among the Texans this seasons is veteran tackle Todd Wade. And though he may be new, he's hard to miss.

This 6-8, 315-pound giant is the biggest man on the team and has a heart to match.

Wade comes to Houston from Miami in his fifth season in the NFL. Not only does he bring his immense talent to the Texans squad but he brings his generosity to the city as well.

In Miami, Wade was actively involved in many charitable organizations and events. Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Make a Wish Foundation and various Cystic Fibrosis events such as dinners, auctions, golf tournaments.

"I did a pretty good bit of charity down there," Wade said. "There were little things every few weeks. I worked a lot with cancer patients and kids in the hospital especially around Christmas time.

"Almost every Tuesday you were doing something, especially during the season."

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He also claims that his teammates played a role in his charity work.

"Junior Seau brought a charity from San Francisco," Wade said. "Around Christmas time you were allotted to give a certain amount of money to a kid and then take him around to a store and go shopping with him."

Habitat for Humanity played a large role in many of the Dolphins' lives and Wade hopes to bring that to the Texans.

Habitat for Humanity is an organization in which individuals come together and build a home for families who previously could not afford a home of their own. Habitat has built more than 175, 000 homes and provides shelter for nearly 900,000 people worldwide.

"In Miami we did it every year," Wade said. "The whole team did it. In the off-season we would spend a whole day there; we'd get there in the early morning and stay all afternoon building a couple houses. It was a team thing. We did pretty much the whole thing. We were on the roof hammering shingles and putting up sheet rock and everything."

Wade also made the United Way a top priority, generously giving his time and financial support.

"The United Way had a lot to do with donating and visiting kids. Depending on their ages," he said. "With the younger ones, we would help them paint and do arts and crafts."

Wade's favorite event?

"Visiting kids in the hospital," he said. "You're really helping them out and making their day and you can tell by the look on their faces."

Wade is also involved with the Make a Wish Foundation. In 1980, Make a Wish Foundation began granting the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions and since then has granted wishes of 110,000 kids all over the world.

"I did a few things with Make a Wish. One thing was I got auctioned off for a date with another teammate of mine."

Wade's caring and generosity developed years before the NFL while volunteering much of his time in his hometown, Jackson, Miss.

"In high school I did a thing called Mustard Seed," he said. "It was for kids with Down Syndrome and we would go out to their house and visit them. It was really fun and I had a great time with them."

His generosity continued into college when he took part in nursing home, hospital and cancer patient visits.

Like the Dolphins, Wade certainly has his choice of charitable work in Houston. The Texans are involved with many outreach programs. Players take part in the Texans Outreach Tour, hospital and school visits and give time and funds to the Houston Texans Foundation. Players also contribute with their own foundations; Kris Brown's Kicks for Kids Program, the Aaron Glenn Foundation and Jamie Sharper's DEFEN$E for DOLLAR$.

Right now, Wade does not have his own charitable organization, but he admits it's something he's interested in materializing.

"I don't have my own foundation, but I'm looking," Wade said. "Location is another deal. I want to have it in Jackson (Mississippi) or here in Houston. I might like to do something with cancer."

If the cancer field is something Wade does decide to involve himself in, he has a good stepping-stone on the topic -- his stepdad.

"He's one of the main guys who headed up the cancer research center in Jackson," Wade said. "He's the head of research for the University of Mississippi Medical Center."

It's only the beginning of the preseason and already Wade is anxious to get a taste of the charity work that Houston has to offer.

This "friendly giant" is looking forward to staying active in the community, making kids smile and becoming involved with many charity organizations-all while having a winning season with the Texans.

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