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Nelson balances football, life calling

Posted Jun 8, 2013

When Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Nelson is not playing football, he is focused on helping children in Haiti.

Two weeks ago, Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Nelson spent three days in the island nation of Haiti learning about the conditions orphaned children face in poverty.

After the visit, where he saw children unable to find food to eat and in the streets living in tents, Nelson and his two brothers came up with the idea to build an orphanage to protect those unable to find food and shelter. Nelson said that one of his two brothers will live in Haiti full-time when the orphanage is built while he handles the business from America.

“I started an orphan care ministry with my brothers,” Nelson said. “We’re looking to build an orphanage in Haiti, so we’re looking to see some different structures and see different orphanages, see how they’re built, see how they’re run and love some orphaned kids.

“It’s really a special deal.”

Part of that “special deal” is the building of family-style housing for the children.

“What we’re doing is building family-style cottages, instead of just one traditional orphanage where you’ve got 80 kids running around,” Nelson said. “It’s a family-style village where you’ve got six to eight kids, a house mom in each house so it’s more of a family mentality so each kid feels like they’re part of the family instead of just a number. Each kid’s going to be loved and told they’re special and help these kids find a purpose.”

Prior to building the orphanage, Nelson said he would donate money to help those less fortunate. With his faith and passion to help, Nelson felt he could do more to influence the lives of children than just donating money.

“I went on a mission trip about a year-and-a-half ago to Haiti, spent time with some orphaned kids, and it’s just something that tugged at my heart,” Nelson said. “When you go and you meet these kids, you’re never the same.

“For about the past six, seven years, I’ve been donating money, donating time and praying. I got tired of being just the background guy. I wanted to actually get my hands dirty and actually do something. You can sit there and watch TV all you want and send money and hope for the best, but I got tired of doing that. I wanted to be on the front line, do something, and be a difference for these kids. They touched my heart in a way that I can’t just sit back and just watch it, hear about them or pray for them. I have to be there, help and lead people that can help.”