Colts Lineman Joe Reitz Takes On Homelessness

The Fishers native and his wife, Jill, will host the annual Tackling Homelessness fundraiser at the team complex on September 29.

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Photo courtesy Tackling Homelessness
Photo courtesy Tackling Homelessness

Homelessness. A condition that’s all too common in Indianapolis. And an issue that Colts offensive lineman Joe Reitz cares deeply about—enough to host the upcoming Tackling Homelessness fundraiser at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on September 29. The event benefits Horizon House, which provides services aimed at helping the homeless get back on their feet.

“I think it’s just a fundamental need—food, clothing, and shelter,” says Reitz. “It’s something that you hope everybody in our world, especially our city, has access to.”

The Fishers native first heard about the charity when he attended Tackling Homelessness in 2012, hosted that year by former Colts receiver Austin Collie, who was reprising his role from 2010 and 2011. Reitz took over the hosting duties in 2013; punter Hunter Smith and tight end Dallas Clark are among other former Colts players who have hosted. Attending this year, along with Reitz and his wife, Jill, will be former defensive tackle Josh Williams and wife Marcella, who started the event 10 years ago.

Reitz believes in Horizon House’s mission, as well as the group’s employees and the people they’ve helped. “In society, when people have a passion for something, it rubs off on you,” he says. “You feel it in their personality, you feel it in the way that they talk, and I think that’s cool. That really inspired Jill and me. We thought, ‘This place is great, because look at how much these people care. Look at the passion they have for what they’re doing.’ That’s something we can help out with by hosting this Tackling Homelessness event, so that we can hopefully raise a lot of money and do something good with it.”

For Teresa Wessel, Horizon House’s executive director, having NFL players at the event is important because it allows the organization to reach more people than it might on its own.

Photo courtesy Tackling Homelessness
Photo courtesy Tackling Homelessness

“Having that support from the Colts organization, all the way down to the individual players, is just huge for us,” she says, “because we can talk about the issue of homelessness and talk about it in a light that helps people understand it’s something that affects the whole community. And we as a whole community need to help reduce homelessness.”

Reitz says his Christian faith is a big part of his life, and serving others is central to his faith. From an early age, he and his three siblings, Katie, Betsy, and Andy, went with their parents to volunteer at soup kitchens and in other community-service roles. He was impacted by the less-fortunate people he saw and learned that there are different ways to help people, whether through time, talent, or treasure.

“I’ve always thought it’s our responsibility and duty to give back to others when we’re able to,” he says.

Highlights of the event will include Colts players appearances and autograph sessions, as well as a barbecue buffet, live music by the Hunter Smith Band, and photo ops with the Colts’ 2007 Lombardi Trophy.

Tackling Homelessness, Sept. 29, 5:30–9 p.m. Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, 7001 W. 56th St. 314-423-8909. This event is sold out. To donate to Horizon House, go to horizonhouse.cc/donate.aspx.

 

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