Kyle Van Noy was rolling strikes all afternoon at Patriot Place's Splitsville, but when the group of kids he was hosting challenged him to roll one more, he fell short. He lost the wager.
A group of 10 kids in foster care cheered and laughed as their new friend dropped to the ground at the end of the lane, cranking out 20 push ups, much to their delight.
"I'm so sore. I don't know if I can lift the rest of OTAs," Kyle joked afterwards.
May is National Foster Care month, and to celebrate, Kyle and Marissa Van Noy hosted nine local kids who are in foster care for a day of bowling, fun and surprises with their Van Noy Valor Foundation and Wonderfund of Massachusetts, a non-profit that works with "children engaged with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families," according to its website.
The Van Noy Valor Foundation was created to support kids who are in foster care or who have been adopted through mentorship and unique experiences. It's a cause that hits particularly close to home as Kyle was adopted and both Marissa's father and younger brother were also adopted.
And on May 23, the Van Noys brought that mission to life by bringing a small group to Splitsville, onto the Gillette Stadium field and even into the Patriots locker room. For kids and teens in foster care, a day like this one means a great deal. Susan, who brought her grandson, said it made his day, especially because Kyle's own background was relatable for this group.
"It brightened his whole day up. A lot of times at school, kids say things. They do. This gives him an outlet. You don't see a lot of this happening for these kids," Susan said. "I'm happy for all the children that they're getting this opportunity. I mean they're with a Patriots player. What's better than that? It's empowering, and he'll never forget it."
That kind of empowerment and confidence is exactly what Kyle and Marissa hoped for the event, and they could see it happening right in front of them. Kids who came quiet, shy and hesitant left laughing, smiling and open.
"For me, it's awesome to see the growth of a kid and them breaking down their walls in just an hour and a half, getting to know them at a level that you wouldn't if you're in a big group," Kyle said. "I think everyone wants to be appreciated and loved, and that's what our goal is for the foundation, as well as for the Patriots Foundation."
Though those who are in the foster care system often face difficult journeys, Kyle and Marissa wanted to make each one understand that they could overcome whatever is thrown their way.
"I hope they take away that no matter the situation you’re in, you can make it, and it doesn’t matter where your path goes, if you work hard and you do the little things right, anything can happen," Kyle said.
"And that they’re special," Marissa continued. "Every one of them is uniquely special, and they’re cared about and loved and like you said they can do anything they want to do."
Though it was not the intended outcome of, Kyle gained new and dedicated fans. One said before he arrived to Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady was his favorite player.
Now, he said, on game day, he’ll be wearing No. 53.