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Patriots rookies make volunteering debut at Boston Children's Hospital

The Patriots rookie class stopped by Boston Children's Hospital on Thursday afternoon. 

Running back Damien Harris wasn't looking for a new nickname on Thursday, but he got one anyway, courtesy of a vibrant and outspoken new friend -- a patient at Boston Children's Hospital, Adam.

As Damien, Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt and Byron Cowart posed for a photo, Adam playfully referred to Damien as Shorty.

"I was walking around with a bunch of O-linemen and D-linemen, so they're all like 6'3" or above. From now on call me Shorty," Damien said with a laugh.

"That might be the highlight of the day," Hjalte said.

Every year, the Patriots rookie class spends a day together in Boston, bonding over lunch and visiting patients at Boston Children's Hospital, and this year is no different. After lunch at Fenway Johnnie's, the 2019 class of rookies learned what it means to "Celebrate Volunteerism" with the Patriots Foundation.

Before visiting individual rooms throughout the hospital, the Patriots helped patients and staff prepare decorations for a luau themed party. They made banners, hung out with kids and got in touch with their inner child in the process.

"I genuinely had a good time coloring today," N'Keal Harry said.

"I just want to put it on the record that my coloring was a lot better than N'Keal's," Joejuan Williams said.

Though the playful coloring rivalry got heated between the first and second round draft picks, they were able to put their differences aside to bring light to those who visited. N'Keal, Joejuan, Chase Winovich and Jarrett Stidham visited patients waiting for or who have received transplants, ranging from 11 months to 21 years old.

"These kids are some fighters," Joejuan said. "It definitely humbles me, and it definitely makes me be grateful for the things that I have and what I've been through because there's always somebody that's going through a little bit worse than you. Just coming here and seeing them smile and trying to make their day, that was definitely the best experience."

Whether they talked videos games, played catch or, in the case of Gunner Olszewski, juggled, the visit from the Patriots was enough to give the patients and their families a break from the reality of why they were there in the first place, if only for a few minutes.

"Sometimes we take things for granted and we don't really see a big picture how fortunate we are," Damien said. "Doing things like this and seeing what other people go through and being able to provide them with some joy, whether it's two minutes or whatever, it's a great opportunity for us."

With each smile from a kid or a parent, the Patriots players could feel that joy, and while they were able to bring a bright spot to these families, Thursday was also a unique chance for the new teammates to bond in an emotional way.

"I think the coolest thing is, obviously, we were all here together, but I think all of us, especially us four since we were a group, we go through a lot of different struggles, whether it's in the middle of the season or a workout or whatever it may be," Jarrett said. "Some of these kids are fighting for their lives, so it just gives you a whole new perspective. I think doing it together, we'll be able to reflect on this later on and really look back at it and see how big of an impact it had on us."

You can look at more photos from Thursday's rookie visit to Boston Children's Hospital in the gallery below.

The Patriots rookie class spent the day together in Boston on Thursday, bonding over lunch and visiting patients at Boston Children's Hospital.

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