Moran Norris Foundation’s “Follow Me To the Stars” Dinner
Just recently, the Texans signed fullback Moran Norris, an 11 year NFL veteran and Houston native. Norris signed on with the New Orleans Saints in 2001 and came to the Texans in September 2002. Norris played in Houston through the 2005 regular season and was then signed as a free agent in San Francisco in 2006. Since then, Norris has played for the 49ers and the Detroit Lions. Norris was then signed to a one-year contract with the Texans in June 2012. Norris has had a consistent career in the NFL and is well respected by players and coaches throughout the league for his leadership abilities and his work ethic. Norris is famously known around his circle as saying that he “is not the greatest player on the field … but you’re not going to outwork [him]”. But it is Norris’ loyalty to his hometown and giving back that makes him a Houston hometown hero.
Since 2007, Norris and his wife Tamara have hosted the annual “Follow Me To the Stars” event, a fundraising dinner which takes place at a local Houston venue, and brings awareness and raises funds for the Moran Norris Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to put programs in place that help local Houston students realize and achieve their goals, whether it be in the classroom, at home, or on the football field. The Foundation has various hallmark programs, such as the “Follow Me” Football Camp which teams local students with professional athletes to work on athletic skills, the Shopping for Good Character event which allows students to enjoy a shopping spree at a local store as an acknowledgment of achievement in academics and the demonstration of good character, and the Follow Your Dream Scholarship program which provides college scholarships and computers to local students based on an essay-writing competition. All of these programs are supported financially by generous donors, most of whom attend the annual dinner.
On June 24, 2012, the Foundation hosted the annual dinner at Houston’s Hotel ZaZa in the medical center. Various NFL athletes, including Texans’ Strong Safety Glover Quin, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, and the Seahawks’ Chester Pitts, were in attendance and hosted sponsor tables, providing insight into the upcoming season and their experience in the NFL generally. The event always provides an opportunity for attendees to participate in a live and silent auction for sports memorabilia and other items, as well as the opportunity to talk to Norris and other NFL players and sports personalities. But what makes the event special is the chance to help support a cause that is so near to Norris and his family’s hearts, contribute to the greater good of Houston, and join together in the name of good character – something that is not highlighted enough in the NFL, let alone any sport. This year’s event brought hundreds of guests, including keynote speaker and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson whose message of the importance of integrity and excellence resonated well with the students in attendance as well as other attendees. Overall, the event was a poignant homage to Norris’ passion and served as a well-deserved “Welcome Home” to Norris and his family.
Matt Schaub’s Gr8 Hope Foundation Donates To Children’s Hospital
On Monday July 16, 2012, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and his wife Laurie teamed up to present a $200,000 check to the Texas Children’s Hospital on behalf of the Schaubs’ Gr8 Hope Foundation. Raising almost two times what was raised in 2011, the donation will help support the Hospital’s child life development program. In its first year (2011), the Foundation raised over $100,000. Those funds were donated to the Hospital for the construction of a playroom at one of the Hospital’s secondary campuses in west Houston. The Schaubs have vowed to partner with Texas Children’s Hospital on a long-term basis regardless of whether Schaub is in a Texans jersey. Although attendees at the ceremony attempted to question Schaub about the status of his foot and whether he would be ready for training camp, Schaub declined to comment in detail, instead choosing to refocus the attention on the Hospital and the day’s event.
Overall, the Texans players have been busy doing good deeds for the community in the weeks leading up to training camp. As the focus drifts away from the offseason and towards preseason workouts, the Texans should take pride in the fact that they have flexed their philanthropic muscle and should be recharged as they inch closer to the season. Moreover, the Texans have proven that leadership exists at all times, both on and off the field.