FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —** The Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation's Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards place a spotlight on those who give their time to help others and exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism. Annually, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation host the awards program as part of the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in honor of Myra Kraft's example of being a lifelong volunteer.
On June 9, 26 volunteers were recognized for their contributions at a luncheon and awards ceremony at Gillette Stadium. Each Community MVP received grants for their respective nonprofit organizations. Fifteen New England based organizations were presented with $5,000 grants in honor of their volunteers' work. Ten others received grants of $10,000 and one grand prize winner was presented $25,000.
"Every year, we ask New England nonprofit organizations to nominate one volunteer who they consider their MVPs," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "This year, we received a record number of nominations from over 400 nonprofits. Their stories are heartwarming and inspirational and narrowing the field to 26 winners gets more difficult every year. As a lifelong volunteer herself, this was always Myra's favorite event. I am so glad that her legacy continues to live through the great work of all the Myra Kraft Community MVPs."
On hand to congratulate the award winners was Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Charitable Foundation President Joshua Kraft, Pro Football and Patriots Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo and Patriots alumni and three-time Super Bowl Champion Joe Andruzzi.
Max Wallack of Natick, Massachusetts was selected as this year's $25,000 grand prize winner.
"I believe that anyone who has the ability to make a positive difference in someone else's life has the responsibility to do so," said Wallack. "I believe that no one is too young, too old, too poor, or too handicapped to make a positive difference in the world.
At the age of 11, Max founded the nonprofit organization, Puzzles to Remember, after his great grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The mission of the organization is to provide a line of therapeutic puzzles made specifically to meet the needs of Alzheimer's patients. Through the organization's research, Max has found that these puzzles have made a positive impact on patients with Alzheimer's. To date, he has distributed over 29,000 puzzles to nursing facilities and adult daycare facilities around the globe.
Now at the age of 17, Max is completing his junior year at Boston University and has become an international advocate for Alzheimer's disease. He has volunteered more than 3,700 hours as a research intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory at Boston University's Alzheimer's Disease Center.
Last June, he coauthored a book titled, "Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator? An explanation of Alzheimer's disease to children." The book is available in five different languages, being translated into seven others and is currently being used by schools around the globe.
"I am very honored to be selected as a winner of the Myra Kraft Community MVP Award," Wallack said. "I am appreciative that this award from the New England Patriots will help me improve the lives of many Alzheimer's patients and their care partners."
The 2014 MVPs represent all six New England states, a variety of nonprofit organizations and range in ages from 13 to 93 years old. Nominations open each spring. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.patriots.com/community.