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Good Things Come in 3's

As much as Kevin Faulk loves New England, he also still cares about his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana.

And if there's any sport he enjoys as much as football, no doubt it's softball.

"Oh, I've been playing ever since I was a kid. And I've played in plenty of celebrity games over the years," Faulk explained. "During [football] season, you're solely focused on football. Now, I'm with the family, going to softball games with my little girl, going to baseball games with my little boy, and just having fun with them."

This weekend, Faulk wants to combine his love of softball with his desire to help both communities he calls home. Faulk is inviting Patriots fans to join him for what he hopes will be an annual charitable fundraising weekend.

Playing off his jersey number 33, the two-day event is called "Good Things Come in 3's" Dinner & Celebrity Softball. All events are open to the public, with proceeds benefiting United Way organizations in Massachusetts and Louisiana.

The festivities kick off tonight with a gala dinner and auction at (coincidentally) 33 Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Boston. Ticket prices range from $100 to $300, depending on when you arrive and how long you plan to stay. On the auction block, sports enthusiasts will find plenty of valuable items.

"Golf trips, golf bags, Patriots apparel, autographed balls," Faulk detailed, "and the best one, I think, is the ball that's signed by all the guys remaining from our three Super Bowls."

Then Saturday night at 7 o'clock, Faulk and some fellow Patriots (Benjamin Watson, Wes Welker, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, among others) will show off their softball skills at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Massachusetts, home of the Brockton Rox. Tickets are $10 for the game, or $100 for the game and a pre-game VIP reception with the players.

Faulk's simple idea to do some good has blossomed into something far bigger than he could have imagined.

"It just started out as [something] me and a friend of mine talked about. He went to a Brockton Rox baseball game, and he was like 'Man, I have the perfect place for the stadium to have the softball game.' He took me there, we met with a couple of people from the Brockton Rox and they said, 'Sure.'

"Then 33 Restaurant and Lounge came along wanting to do an event and we thought , 'Wow, we can tie it all together…have one night at the restaurant and the softball game the next day.' It's been fun working with everyone to make this happen."

When the fun and games are through, Faulk says he's ready to focus on the upcoming NFL season. And with the addition of several high-profile wide receivers, is he excited about the prospect of bigger running holes opening up for him and his fellow ball carriers?

"I think it's just going to help overall," he observed. "[Opponents] are going to have to respect the passing game as well as the running game…so it's going to be a real good thing."

With all of New England's offseason maneuvers, many football experts are predicting another Super Bowl victory for the Pats. What about that added pressure?

"It's what you do, it's what you sign up for, it's why you compete.

"You know, you want to be competitive. If everyone else wants to make expectations, that's up to them," Faulk added. "We [the players] know what we have to do during the course of mini camp, training camp, and that's work hard in order to reach that goal."

For now, though, Faulk's goal is to raise as much money as he can for some good causes.

And have some fun doing it.

For more information on tonight's dinner/auction, visit *www.33restaurant.com/goodthings/ or call (617) 572-3311. For details on Saturday's softball game, call (508) 559-7070 or log on to www.brocktonrox.com.*

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