New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is mostly known for his dominating play on the football field, his upbeat personality and his partying. However the four-time All-Pro should also be known for something else: his charitable work. Yesterday, at the Patriots’ annual kickoff gala, this aspect of Gronkowski’s life received the attention and appreciation it deserves.
The 27-year old was named the team’s 2016 Ron Burton Community Award winner.
Gronkowski does a lot of community work, as Mike Reiss documented in a 2015 story. He regularly visits schools, military events and hospitals – and he loves doing it, according to the Patriots’ director of community relations, Donna Spigarolo. “If I call him to do something, he'll do it for me,” Spigarolo said. “His enthusiasm is contagious, no matter where he goes, and he always brings a smile to the room. It's a joy to work with him.”
Team owner Robert Kraft echoed Spigarolo’s remarks during yesterday’s gala, when he said the following about this year’s recipient:
Rob is just as fun to watch at a community event as he is on the game field. Giving back to the community is a big part of being ‘Gronk.' He is engaging with fans of all ages. His gregarious personality makes him one of our greatest ambassadors, especially when spreading cheer to children at local hospitals or schools. We love the devotion and enthusiasm that he shows in the community and are proud to present him with this year's Ron Burton Community Service Award.
Gronkowski, who is the 14th player to receive the team’s annually awarded honor, said the following during his speech yesterday – once again displaying a perfect combination of humor and seriousness:
It’s an honor to accept this award. Who would have thought five years ago when I was on ESPN every weekend drunk, that I would be accepting this award?
Never change, big guy. Congratulations on the award and, most importantly: thank you for your work in the community.