The day the Watsons moved in was a blur. It was late November, two days before Thanksgiving, and as they drove up to the house they saw a host of television cameras.
It was cold, and they were excited. They’d expected a modest ceremony and the keys to a vacant house. Instead, they arrived to find NFL star Warrick Dunn waiting to welcome them. His charity, which partners with Habitat for Humanity, had furnished the house with a sofa and chairs, a television and a computer.
They stocked the cabinets with food and provided a lawn mower for upkeep.
The family hadn’t planned to stay that first night in their new home, but now there was food and furniture and a life they were eager to start. They spent most of that night just wandering from room to room, doubling back for a second and third look at each gift they’d been given.
And when the excitement finally dissipated, Watson fell asleep in the middle room along the front of the house on a bed purchased by an NFL star.
This week, Dunn shuffled through his notes to find details of a welcome ceremony he remembers only vaguely. The file marked “Watson” tells the story of a woman who, like his own mother, was struggling to raise a family and simply needed a helping hand.
It includes pictures of the little boy in the dark jeans and black sweatshirt, grinning nervously at the sight of an NFL player. That boy would grow up to become a Heisman Trophy candidate, hoping to share those same gifts with others. It’s what Dunn calls “the trickle-down effect” of charity.