FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Four-time Super Bowl Champion Rob Gronkowski may be retired, but he is still creating unforgettable memories for his young fans.
The former New England Patriots tight end was back at Gillette Stadium last week where he met 14-year-old cancer survivor Joseph “Jake” Drake.
The teen from Melbourne Beach, Florida, said Gronk is his football idol. He and his family love to watch sports together and whenever Jake plays football, he pretends to be Gronk.
Jake is in remission from an optic nerve tumor. He said being a sports fan helped him through long, hard days in the hospital, inspiring him to stay determined as he missed most of the 7th grade.
His wish was to spend time with Gronk, who was happy to oblige, presenting him with a Patriots jersey and a gift bag.
“We did bowling, we threw around the football, we did a Gronk spike and talked a lot and had a lot of fun. Gronk told me never to give up on what I dream to be,” Jake said.
Gronk also surprised Jake with tickets to Sunday’s Patriots game against the Saints where he had a VIP gameday experience — including being only the third-ever “Keeper of the Light,” ringing the bell atop the new lighthouse in the end zone before kickoff.
“You’re a strong boy, I love it. You gotta keep fighting, you gotta be mentally and physically strong to get through tough, adverse situations. And have a great supporting cast as well, and that’s what it sure looks like with your family,” Gronk told Jake.
Gronk has personally granted 17 wishes during his time with Make-A-Wish and has been involved with dozens more during his time in the NFL.