FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards place a spotlight on those who give their time to help others and exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism. Each year, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation host the awards program as part of the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in honor of Myra Kraft’s example of being a lifelong volunteer.
On June 9, 26 volunteers were recognized for their contributions at a luncheon and awards ceremony at Gillette Stadium. Each Community MVP received grants for their respective nonprofit organizations. Fifteen New England-based organizations were presented with $5,000 grants in honor of their volunteers’ work. Ten others received grants of $10,000 and one grand prize winner was presented $25,000.
“It is truly inspiring to hear the incredible stories of each Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winner,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “Every volunteer has such a unique story about how they got involved in their community and it is very touching to learn about their impact. These individuals are making a lasting impact on a daily basis and we are excited to have the opportunity to thank each of them for their commitment. This is truly one of my favorite programs and I know Myra would be proud of the work each of these volunteers are doing.”
On hand to congratulate the award winners was Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Charitable Foundation President Joshua Kraft, Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett, and Patriots players including linebacker Jerod Mayo, tackle Nate Solder and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
John Mauro of Auburn, Mass. was selected as a $5,000 third prize winner.
“I am humbled and honored by this recognition, but cannot accept this great honor for myself, but rather on behalf of all who struggle each day with Ataxia,” said Mauro. “As a volunteer, it’s about making strides to create awareness of a life altering disease that affects thousands of people here in New England and 150,000 across the United States.”
Back in 2009, Mauro was diagnosed with Unknown Sporadic Ataxia, the loss of full control of bodily movements. Since that time, he has been dedicated to educating others about ataxia and spends countless hours promoting research.
Mauro’s selection as a 2015 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winner drew praise from the National Ataxia Foundation.
“John Mauro is a ‘can do’ guy who has proven time and time again that through his unwavering commitment and steadfast dedication he continues to make a difference through volunteerism,” said the National Ataxia Foundation in a statement. “The National Ataxia Foundation is very pleased that John is being recognized for his outstanding volunteer efforts through the prestigious Myra Kraft Community MVP Award. The National Ataxia Foundation congratulates John for not only this award but for his continued efforts in creating Ataxia awareness and in raising funds to help support the Foundation’s important research efforts.”
As the President of the New England Ataxia chapter, Mauro helps to organize fundraising events, goes on local radio and television shows to educate the public and also speaks with first year medical students at colleges in hopes of inspiring them to help in the research. Mauro also went through legislation back in 2012 to make Massachusetts the first state in the country to pass Ataxia Awareness Day which occurs every year on September 25.
“I decided a long time ago that I would not be a victim of my circumstance,” Mauro continued. “I am a fighter and am meeting this challenge head on by proving to Ataxia that it cannot keep me down. As a volunteer and advocate, I can offer an insider’s perspective on the subject of Ataxia. I cannot sit idly by in silence, so I raise my voice for those who are unable to speak.”
The 2015 MVPs represent all six New England states, a variety of nonprofit organizations and range in age from 17 to 83 years old. The Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation received a record number of applications this year from nonprofit organizations looking to recognize their outstanding volunteers. Nominations open each spring and the awards are open to all nonprofit organizations in the New England region. For more information on these awards, please visit www.patriots.com/community.