Stephon Gilmore's ability to read a play and execute down the field is what makes him a Pro Bowl cornerback and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Like he has done for years for the Patriots on the field, Gilmore saw yet another way he could make a day-saving play.
Last week, he teamed up with UnitedHealthcare to donate $24,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston to help families in need. That donation will provide gift cards and groceries for more than 500 local families.
As a kid, Gilmore spent time after school at his local Boys and Girls Club, and since joining the Patriots, he has built relationships with the kids and families who attend club programs in Boston. With physical distancing in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilmore knew he needed to do something to help out those families who might be hurting financially right now.
Despite being in North Carolina with his family, it was in his heart to do something for those he has met in Boston.
"I had a history with the Boys and Girls Club growing up and I have a history with them in the past during the season. I went and visited their facility and I felt like it was a good time to give back because a lot of people it's already hard in life to provide for families in need, so during this time a lot of people can't work and a lot of people aren't working right now. I felt like in my heart it was a good time to give back." '
Though Gilmore said he prefers to be "hands-on" when it comes to giving back, he knows the situation right now won't allow for that and a financial contribution right now will go a long way for families who are struggling to make ends meet.
"Those kids are always excited when I come there. Just seeing them, shaking their hand," he said. "They look up to people like me, so I just try to show my face. It's one thing helping out in the way I did. Obviously, it's a great way, but when they actually see you, they'll remember that forever."
In doing so, both throughout the season and donations made from thousands of miles away during the off-season, it's all part of the promise that Gilmore made to himself when he was young.
"I'm just thankful I'm in the position I am now. I'm appreciative to have the opportunity to give back," Gilmore said. "I always told myself as a kid, if I ever get in a position to help people that need help, that I was going to try and do that as much as I can."
As this stressful and scary time continues, Gilmore had a simple but encouraging message for those in New England.
"Just stay strong," he said. "We're all in this together."