After a frigid winter (and early spring), Boston's temperature's finally hit the 80s on Wednesday. The sun lifted moods across the city, but the contagious smiles on Harvard's football field had nothing to do with weather.
Patriots Patrick Chung, Rex Burkhead, Dwayne Allen and Lawrence Guy spent the morning volunteering, running a football clinic for about 180 kids with disabilities through AccesSport America. Members of Harvard's football team were also on hand to run drills.
The annual event is a favorite for the kids with whom AccesSport America work and the Patriots. The organization is dedicated to providing "higher function and fitness for people living with challenges and disabilities through high-challenge sports and training," according to its website.
The organization works with students from 12 to 22, and they work on conditioning throughout the year. Their hard work showed on Wednesday.
With Patrick, Rex, Dwayne and Lawrence running drills, the kids made catches, threw like Tom Brady and celebrated with unique touchdown dances all morning long.
"It's good to come out and just have fun. You know, some of these kids are clowns," Patrick said with a smile. "We come out here, and it's fun. The kids are having fun and they go with all of the drills and it's just very inspiring to see this."
Over the years, Patrick has been a regular at AccesSport America's clinic, and he was even honored as the organization's Athlete of the Year a few weeks ago.
"Whether he likes it or not, he’s interwoven into every party of our community and the kids really made a special connection with him," President and Executive Director Ross Lilley said.
And the other Patriots who have come through every year have also made an impact.
"The Patriots are just great. Every Patriot we’ve had for the last six years has been very engaging, no fears of disabilities, no kind of blurred lines," Ross said. "They’ve been right there with them."
For Dwayne, Rex and Lawrence, it was the first time running plays at Harvard Stadium with AccesSport America, and it was a day they won't soon forget. The day was a reminder of just how important it is to spend time in the community.
"During the season, we’re busy. We don’t have a lot of time to be as involved as we want to in the community. During the offseason, when we have a little bit more time, we want to give back," Dwayne said. "We want to serve. We are firm believers that strength is for service not status. We try to show that through our actions."