Patriots superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski and his oldest brother, Gordie, paid a visit to Gorham Youth Football on Wednesday, July 20, bringing with them $30,000 worth of equipment courtesy of Riddell.

Gronk’s visit, and the gear he delivered, were the payoff for the efforts of Jessica Risbara, president of the Gorham Football Boosters, and Kristina Westbrook, another member of the organization, who applied for a grant through the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation.

“What started out as myself and another mom/board member, Kristina. Talking last fall on the sidelines at our sons’ practice turned into something far greater than either of us could have ever anticipated,” says Risbara.

“We realized that our program numbers were low; we watched as our roster numbers dropped, especially for the younger, first- and second-grade team,” says Risbara. “As everyone knows, football isn’t a cheap sport; put that together with the increasing safety concerns, specifically around concussions, and we felt parents were choosing other sports.”

Risbara and Westbrook set out to determine the cost of providing equipment for all the town’s youth players – grades one through eight. “That would alleviate a significant financial burden for parents and also insure that all our players were in safe, certified gear,” says Risbara.

As part of the grant application, Risbara penned an essay detailing the state of Gorham Youth Football. “I held nothing back,” she says. “When I joined the board two years ago, we literally had nothing. Less than nothing. It took all the program had to simply fund each season and keep going so that these young athletes could continue to play the sport they loved.”

Not only did Gronk and Gordie, a former professional baseball player, arrive to present the equipment, they hung around to play pass.

“At the end,” says Risbara, “Gordie threw a long ball to Gronk, which he caught of course, and all the kids started chanting, ‘Spike it! Spike it!’ Needless to say, he gladly complied.”

“This is undoubtedly an amazing gift for the program, but we hope to show these kids that when you work hard and are determined you can accomplish whatever goal you set your mind to,” Risbara says. “Who knows? It could turn out to be 100 percent better than what you expected.”

Gronk didn’t walk away from his visit to Gorham empty-handed: The Football Boosters presented him with his very own Gorham football jersey.

Gronk takes to the field at Gorham High School.

Young Josh Cenate, dashes forward in hopes of grabbing a Gronk bomb. In red is the Patriots star’s brother, Gordie, a former pro baseball player.

New England Patriots superstar Rob Gronkowski towers over a mountain of excited Gorham Youth Football players Wednesday, July 20, after delivering new equipment for the organization.


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