FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 4, 2021) – Throughout the 2021 season, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will recognize 17 local volunteers with the "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award." The honorees will be celebrated for going above and beyond to support nonprofit organizations in our New England communities.
As part of this recognition, the foundation will present a $5,000 donation to the nonprofit organization represented by each honoree. The Patriots Difference Makers will participate in a special year-end celebration and receive a pair of tickets to attend the Patriots final regular season home game on Jan. 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We are excited to once again recognize local volunteers with our Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award," said Josh Kraft, president, New England Patriots Foundation. "Each of these honorees has their own unique story of community service and we are proud to shine a light on the tremendous work they are doing. We would like to thank all of this year's Patriots Difference Makers for helping to build stronger New England communities."
Jennifer Caruso from Lynnfield, Mass. was selected as a 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for her commitment to Swirls Around the World. As part of this recognition, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will be making a $5,000 donation to support the nonprofit.
In 2013, Jennifer lost her 19-year-old cousin, Matt, to Ewing Sarcoma. His nickname was Swirls and, in his memory, Jennifer started Swirls Around the World.
What began as a small gesture of distributing bracelets to spread Matt's story and raise awareness for Ewing Sarcoma, has evolved into a nonprofit foundation raising funds for scholarships. Each year, the nonprofit provides scholarships to Medford High School students that exhibit a strong commitment to community service.
Jennifer leads all fundraising initiatives for the foundation, which includes fitness events and an annual Thanksgiving flag football game. In addition to the scholarships, Jennifer delivers special Swirls packages each month to pediatric and young adult cancer warriors and continues to find ways to remember and honor those warriors who are no longer with us.
"Volunteerism is something that my family and I hold close to our hearts, as it has allowed us to continue Matthew's legacy by paying it forward," said Jennifer. "I am honored to accept this award on behalf of my cousin Matt. This award is for him, and for all of the families and fighters who inspire us every day."
While an undergrad student at Northeastern, Jennifer was a member of the Love Your Melon campus crew program to engage and unite these students in the fight against pediatric cancer. She served as Regional Manager, overseeing more than 120 college campus crews across New England. Jennifer coordinated weekly calls with each campus to set goals, coordinated hospital visits and donation events, collaborated with other organizations on campus and connected campus crews with cancer fighting families in the area to coordinate visits with kids battling cancer.
Now as a physician assistant, Jennifer will continue her philanthropy work with Swirls Around the World and give back to communities through volunteerism and paying it forward.
Jennifer stated, "My cousin Matthew once said, 'If you can understand the meaning of life, then you can understand anything.' With that said, I have already achieved it."
The Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award is part of the foundation's Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, designed to educate fans about the need for volunteering, highlight deserving volunteers from across the region and inspire Patriots fans to become lifelong volunteers.
This marks the 11th season that the Kraft family and the Patriots Foundation has presented their Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award to volunteers from all across New England. Since its inception, 150 individuals have received this award and more than $675,000 has been donated to local nonprofit organizations.
To learn more about the program or to nominate a volunteer for the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award, visit www.patriots.com/community.