FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 2, 2019) – Nine years ago, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation introduced a season-long theme called Celebrate Volunteerism. The main focus of the initiative was to recognize community volunteers and to promote the importance of volunteering.
Since its inception, New England Patriots players, coaches and alumni have donated tens of thousands of hours to giving back to their New England communities. During their weekly off day, Patriots players volunteer throughout New England to support children and families in need. Patriots season ticket members have also teamed with Patriots players to better their communities.
Throughout the 2019 season, the foundation will continue its Celebrate Volunteerism initiative by teaming with nonprofit organizations to educate fans about the need for volunteering, highlighting deserving volunteers from across the region and seeking to inspire Patriots fans to become lifelong volunteers. The foundation will present a weekly "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" award, which recognizes deserving volunteers who go above and beyond to support their New England communities.
"Volunteerism is at the heart of giving back and bettering our communities," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "We will continue to honor and thank the many deserving volunteers in our region that are often not recognized for their valuable contributions. Through this Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, we hope to inspire Patriots fans to make a difference and become lifelong volunteers."
Bryan McDavitt from West Boylston, Mass. was selected as a 2019 Patriots Difference Makers of the Week for his commitment to Camp Rising Sun.
"I am very humbled to be recognized for this award," said Bryan. "I have been very blessed with a loving and supportive family that has instilled strong values and emphasized caring for others, being respectful and giving back to the community."
Camp Rising Sun is a nonprofit organization based in Branford, Conn. that provides an overnight camping experience for children ages five to 17 who have faced a diagnosis of cancer. Children that are diagnosed with cancer have a tough road. In addition to the physical challenges they encounter, they often fall behind at school, experience low self-esteem and lack confidence. Camp tries to give some of that back. It gives them an opportunity to succeed at new activities while also getting to know other campers who can relate to what they're going through.
Bryan has been volunteering at Camp Rising Sun since 2011. He started as a cabin staff member in their senior cabin. In this role, he built meaningful relationships with the campers while managing late nights, camp pranks, homesickness and seeing that the medical needs of all campers are met. Now serving as a head counselor, Bryan handles these same responsibilities, in addition to planning the daily activities for the cabin, leading and evaluating cabin staff and is the key person overseeing the safety and discipline of his campers.
Parents remark how much their child has changed after attending camp. Much of that positive change can be attributed to counselors, like Bryan. He is creative, energetic and always knows how to make the campers smile. He is well-liked by all campers and staff and plays an instrumental role in positively impacting children that are diagnosed with cancer.
"I have been so fortunate that life brought me to camp," said Bryan. "From the first time I set foot on Camp in Colebrook, Conn. I could tell it was a special place. The love and pure joy that camp brings the campers is contagious. I have formed some truly special relationships with the graduated campers and staff and keep in touch with many of them year round to hear about their experiences and successes for the next phases in their lives."
Fifteen individuals will be named Patriots Difference Makers throughout the season. The outstanding volunteers will be recognized on the Patriots website and will be honored during a special ceremony at the Patriots final regular season home game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, December 29.
Fans are encouraged to nominate a local volunteer for the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week award by visiting www.patriots.com/community.