CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns punter
Since returning to the field in 2012, Hodges has punted 72 times for 3,026 yards and 24 of those kicks have landed inside the opponents’ 20. For his efforts, Hodges was selected by his teammates as the Ed Block Courage Award winner. The award is given annually to a player from each team in memory of the former Baltimore Colts athletic trainer, Ed Block, and recognizes professionalism, strength, dedication and charity.
Hodges accepted the awarded on Tuesday evening at Deck the House, the 17th annual Benefit Auction for the Babies of Providence House, the team’s Courage House in Cleveland.
“It’s a great award,” Hodges said. “I’m excited to be here and be coupled with the Providence House. The award itself is really special because my teammates voted me in for it. That’s the best part of it, that I have the support of my teammates after coming back from injury.
“It’s been tough, but we’re just plugging away, just like everybody else. We’re doing our best to try to hit good punts and put the team in better positions.”
Prior to accepting the award, Hodges, his wife, Arin, and their children, son, Christian and daughter, Charlee, paid a visit to Providence House.
“I wanted to see what it was all about,” Hodges said. “What I saw when I went there was their commitment to family, their commitment to keeping kids out of the system and just keeping families united. That’s really important to me and my wife. We took our kids over there and they played with the kids for about an hour and we just really enjoyed the atmosphere of what they’re trying to do in keeping families together.”
Five-time Pro Bowl left tackle
“Reggie had a difficult injury last year and to see him come back this year, better than ever, it’s great,” Thomas said. “He’s a friend of mine. He’s a teammate and he’s an even better person. To have him win that is really special.”
Hodges and Thomas were joined at the event by offensive lineman
The Browns Women’s Organization has supported Providence House for several years and Jennifer Shurmur, the wife of head coach Pat Shurmur, joined the Browns’ players at Tuesday’s Deck the House event.
“It’s wonderful to open the players’ eyes,” said Renee Harvey, vice president of community outreach for the Browns. “Most of them are new to the community, so to link them with some phenomenal organizations, it’s provides them an opportunity to give back, to get to know the community a little bit better and find something that’s close to their hearts and that they’re passionate about.”
Providence House, Ohio’s first crisis nursery, is Cleveland’s only voluntary, non-custodial emergency shelter for children ranging from newborn to six years old. With funds from events like Deck the House, Providence House is expanding their work to include children up to the age of 10 in 2013.
Providence House helps children who are at risk for abuse/neglect, 33 percent of which are homeless and seven percent are witness to domestic violence. Children at the Providence House also come from homes where the primary caregiver has medical or mental-health issues.
“We’re privately funded, so these fundraisers mean a lot to us,” said Natalie Leek-Nelson, CEO and President of Providence House. “Tonight, with Joe and Annie Thomas and the other players and the Browns Women’s Organization, we’re hoping to raise over $100,000 for our children. We had teddy bears being sold, live and silent auction packages, mystery Santa stockings. It’s a fun event and there’s something fun for everyone.”