My Cause My Cleats is an NFL initiative where players can showcase causes that are close to their hearts with custom cleats. The Patriots will wear their custom cleats when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 8, and Patriots.com is taking a look at some of the causes they are choosing to support. Some of these cleats will be available for auction after the game through the NFL.
Though it is based in Quincy, Team IMPACT's reach goes far beyond the bounds of Massachusetts. Team IMPACT, which was co-founded by Dan Kraft, has created bonds on campuses across the country by matching kids living with illnesses or disabilities with college athletic teams, and that includes a stop in Ann Arbor, Mich.
At the University of Michigan, Larry Prout wasn't just a guest of the football team. He became a part of it. Prout was diagnosed with spina bifida and has had more than 100 surgeries, according to Bleacher Report, and though he may not be making tackles or catching passes for the Wolverines, he is still very much one of them.
So much so that when Chase Winovich walks out onto the Gillette Stadium field on Sunday, he will be bringing Prout with him. For My Cause My Cleats, Winovich will be representing Team IMPACT, and his custom cleats are complete with a drawing of the two Wolverines.
"His friendship has meant a lot to me. It's provided a lot of inspiration for myself and I hope have reciprocated those feelings back to him. He's just an awesome guy. He's so brave. His family is so amazing, their dedication," Winovich said.
Prout was paired up with Michigan football, and from the jump, he was a part of the team. Team IMPACT's goal is to make those who may not be able to compete athletically a chance to be a part of a team, and Winovich said growing up playing sports was pivotal for his development as a person. Having the chance to be a part of Prout's journey in football was bigger than the game.
"It's been a lifelong battle [for him]. They pair them with college or a professional team and really give them an opportunity to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. It also gives a platform for whatever illness or things they're battling to raise awareness for that," Winovich said. "It provides a sense of belonging, and it's something special because you can take it for granted. Sports have always provided that for me, and to give that same feeling back to the universe and to a great person like Larry and his family, it's been really special for me. To represent such a great organization, it's great."
Over his time at Michigan, Winovich saw Prout do exactly that. The team took him in with mutual respect and admiration, and both were better for it.
"For everyone that is in the building, it was an instant respect thing for Larry ... He really wanted to be a part of the team so he would show up at 5:30 a.m. workouts with his dad or his mom just to watch," Winovich said. "It was really cool to see. It really felt like he was part of the team. I'm just proud to call him a friend and represent him and Team Impact."