The Sherry family's lives were turned upside down last November when their 3-year-old son, Camden, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Now a year later, the Foxborough natives can associate this time of year with much better memories.
Fresh off the practice field Oct. 25, Dont'a Hightower surprised Camden, now 4, his 6-year-old sister Annalise, his mother, Brittany, and his father, Luke, during a tour of Gillette Stadium. Diabetes is a cause close to Hightower as his mother, L'Tanya, has Type 2 Diabetes. Hightower hosts an annual Monday Night Football Watch Party to benefit the American Diabetes Association and described the experience of meeting Camden and his family as humbling.
"My mom has had diabetes for multiple years now, so I understand the trials and tribulations of diabetes," Dont'a said. "That burden on anyone is hard enough, let alone a child and his family."
During the visit, Dont'a chatted with the family, took photos and gifted Camden his pair of practice-worn gloves. Camden put the gloves on immediately and was still wearing them when the family left the stadium later that afternoon.
"The support of Dont'a and the Patriots organization means a lot," Brittany said. "I used to coach in Foxborough and the Patriots do so much for the community. For them to do this for us, just some family in Foxborough that they don't know – it really, truly does mean a lot and we really appreciate all the help and support that we've gotten."
The Kraft Family's Partners in Patriotism Fund supported the Sherry family with a grant earlier this year to off-set some of the medical costs associated with Camden's diagnosis. The organization also invited the family to Gillette Stadium for a visit. The Sherrys' behind-the-scenes look of Gillette Stadium featured a tour of the visitors' and officials' locker rooms and press box before ending on the game field with the surprise meet-and-greet with Dont'a.
"Taking the time to say hello and give Camden my gloves or whatever interaction I can compose is worth it to lessen that burden a little bit," Dont'a said. "I try to do what I can. You can't do everything, but it's just a good, joyful feeling to be able to give back and help someone."
The visit with Dont'a was a fitting celebration for where Camden and his family are now.
"For the first few months, we were in information overload and where we were then, I really didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel and now I do," Brittany said. "It feels good, he's getting better and better by the day. It's our new life and Camden's new lifestyle and he's a completely different kid to where we were at last year."