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Ex-Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski remains active in the community even in retirement

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Charlie Berg (Creative Services) for MaineHealth

Rob Gronkowski’s playing days may be behind him, but the former New England Patriots tight end remains as present as ever off the gridiron. Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland found this out first-hand last week: the future Hall of Famer and his family paid a visit to hand over a $25,000 check that was raised through a raffle of Super Bowl tickets earlier this year.

“We are very grateful for this generous donation. Gronk played the game with heart, and we love having his positive presence here at BBCH,” Maine Medical Center’s COO, Jennifer McCarthy, said about the visit and donation. Handing over the check, which was a collaborative effort by the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation and The Light Foundation of fellow ex-Patriot Matt Light, was only one part of Gronkowski’s trip to Maine. though.

The 30-year-old also spent time with some of the patients, and spoke about the experience afterwards. “To see these kids, we saw about a dozen kids and to put a smile on their faces meant a lot. To see them come up — joy and cheers, and just have a blast, talked to them, asked them questions about sports — it was awesome to see and awesome to put a smile on these kids’ faces,” Gronkowski said after the visit.

He visited children in their hospital rooms — at one point, Gronkowski got a fist-bump from a toddler that was not even two years old — and brought them cookies shaped like Patriots jerseys. The three-time Super Bowl winner, who announced his retirement from pro football in late March, also posed for photos with patients, did a little dancing, and also showed off his patented ‘Gronk spike’ (not with a real football, of course).

“It’s so much fun to spend time with the kids and give them a reason to smile,” Gronkowski said at the event. “Knowing that I made a difference playing the game I love is great.”

If you want to donate to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, please click here.