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Gronk returns to New England to donate $1.2 million to Charlesbank Playground renovation

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These days, Rob Gronkowski rocks red and black, rather than red and blue, but on Friday afternoon, the former Patriots tight end's true colors shined through as he made a special announcement in the community where his career began.

During a press conference held by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker along the Charles River Esplanade, Gronkowski presented a $1.2 million check to the Esplanade Association and Massachusetts Department of Conservation, on behalf of his foundation, the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation. The donation will be used to fund a full renovation of the Charlesbank Playground.

"No matter where I go or where I live, I will always have a special connection to New England and the people who live here," Gronkowski said.

Gronkowski was a dominant force on the field during his time with the Patriots, but his legacy in New England goes far beyond football. His unwavering commitment to the community, coupled with his pure compassion and generosity, was perhaps even more admirable than his on-field accolades. During today's event, he said those qualities were instilled in him from the start.

"The Patriots taught me the importance of giving back from the very first day I stepped in that organization," Gronkowski said. "A huge shout out to Mr. Kraft and the Patriots for instilling that into me and showing me the importance of what it's like to give back."

According to CBS Boston, Gronkowski's donation includes 10 years of maintenance on the playground, and legislation has already been filed to rename the site to Gronk Playground. It even lies in a location Gronkowski is all too familiar with.

"It's a perfect location because it's where the duck boats come in and out of the Charles River…you know I love duck boats!" he said, in typical 'Gronk' fashion.

As Gov. Baker recalled those classic 'Gronk' moments during duck boat parades around Boston, he said that above all, it's Gronkowski's heart that continues to make an impact across the region.

"Rob Gronkowski is a lot of things, but the thing I think that gets lost sometimes amidst all the other things that everybody thinks and knows about him, [is that] he's a big man with a big heart," Baker said.

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