On May 24, the Uvalde community suffered an unimaginable tragedy. The pain of losing 19 precious students and two teachers was felt across the globe. Here in Texas, our hearts broke for our neighbors.
Every time I have the privilege of putting on my Houston Texans Cheerleaders uniform, it is never lost on me the impact that uniform can make. Earlier this month, the Texans organization traveled to support the Uvalde community. It was a trip that left a mark on my heart and will forever be a reminder that our uniforms are bigger than football.
We began the trip by surprising the high school football team, their families and coaches at a team dinner. We walked into the gym and were met with looks of surprise and excitement. In the midst of tragedy, it was a moment of unadulterated joy.
At the dinner, we met one player's younger sister. She was a cheerleader and shared her passion for dancing and cheering with us. We spent the evening teaching her some of our favorite cheers and she made sure to teach us a few of hers as well! Seeing the twinkle in her eye reminded us of our 6-year-old selves – dreaming of holding a pair of poms and dancing in a huge stadium.
In the Lone Star State, football is more than a game. It's about family, community, passion and pride. We witnessed firsthand how a shared passion for the sport bridged friendships within that room.
The next day, Good Morning America filmed a live segment at The Honey Bowl, where the Uvalde High School football team plays. During the segment, Texans players Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey announced that the Texans were gifting the Uvalde High School team new custom uniforms for the season. Additionally, our players would wear "Uvalde Strong" decals on their helmets for our home opener on Sept. 11.
In that moment, we shared with the world what it means to be a Texan. Being a Texan is beyond cowboy boots and barbecue – it's about supporting and standing by each other through thick and thin.
We held a Flag-In-Schools youth football camp for elementary age kids later that day. Running drills in the brutal Texas heat couldn't stop the strength of these aspiring football players. As we pumped the kids up before taking the field and gave high fives to players in between drills, we were inspired by the perseverance of those young athletes.
Following the clinic, our organization traveled to Robb Elementary School. As we stepped off the bus, we were hit with a whirlwind of emotions. The entire front lawn of the school was covered in gifts and letters – memories of lives that were taken far too soon. It felt like the world had come together on the Robb Elementary School front lawn in grief and mourning, but also in love and support for the community.
We ended the day by attending the Uvalde High School football home opener. Being in their stadium reminded us of our high school glory days dancing under those Friday night lights.
Little did the team know that we had one more surprise in store for them. We walked into their locker room where members of our team surprised them with a trip to NRG Stadium for our home opener. Watching their faces break into ear-to-ear smiles and hearing their cheers of joy is a memory that still gives me chills. These are the moments that make this sport so magical.
Uvalde's football game started with 21 seconds of silence to remember the 21 lives lost. At one point I turned around and panned the crowd. I held back tears as I watched the sea of people from all walks of life standing strong – a testament to the resilience of Uvalde's community. During the game, my teammates and I took a picture with a beautiful little girl who leapt into our arms. We later found out that her brother had been one of the victims of the tragedy.
I've never been prouder to be a part of the Texans organization. It was an honor to represent this team and bring joy to a community that welcomed us with open arms.
We are Texans. We stand with Uvalde.
The team will also continue to support the Uvalde community by wearing a "Uvalde Strong" decal on their helmets when they take on the Indianapolis Colts in their season opener next Sunday, Sept. 11. at NRG Stadium.