Rob Gronkowski is not participating in the playoffs with the New England Patriots because of a back injury, but he remains prominent in the public eye, as usual.
The latest news involving “Gronk”, as the former Arizona Wildcats tight end is affectionately called, is his heartfelt motivating video delivered this week to a 13-year-old boy named Hunter Pietrowski who is battling brain cancer.
Hunter’s mom, Tiffany Pietrowski, told the Boston Herald she received a video from Gronk by email Monday night, less than 24 hours after a friend launched a social media campaign the Patriots star to meet with Hunter.
The friend tweeted a photo of Hunter as the “cancer warrior” in his Patriots attire. Gronkowski, rehabbing from back surgery, didn’t hesitate to respond.
His message on the video:
“What’s up, Hunter? It’s your buddy Rob Gronkowski here. I’ve been hearing about you lately today, all over the internet, a couple friends hitting me up, just hearing about your story, Hunter. I just want to say congratulations on your last chemo session coming up on Thursday and we’re both going through a little setback right now but we’re both going to come back with major comebacks, Hunter. So let’s do it. Stay strong and let’s fight through this. Let’s go.”
In December, Gronkowski was among the 32 players announced by the National Football League who have been named their respective team’s Man of the Year, representing a commitment to philanthropy and community impact. With the Man of the Year honor comes eligibility to win the league-wide award, named for the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton.
The seven-year veteran has visited dozens of schools across New England to lead students through a Play 60 ultimate gym class and has joined his teammates in building new playgrounds to provide children in underserved communities with safe places to play. As a way to extend those efforts, Gronkowski created the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation to help youth stay actively involved in school and sports.
Gronkowski has teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to host some of his fans at Gillette Stadium as they battle life-threatening illnesses. He also works in conjunction with One Mission, a Massachusetts-based pediatric cancer foundation, to shave his head each spring to raise money for children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with the disease.
The winner will receive a total of $1 million donated in his name, with $500,000 going to a charity of his choice and $500,000 supporting the expansion of Character Playbook across all NFL markets. The two finalists will each receive a $125,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a $125,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook and the additional 29 team winners will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their name to implement Character Playbook.
The winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl LI.