JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. , –
Nearly 100 military children from the National Capital Region participated in a two-day Rob Gronkowski football camp promoting health and wellness among military children at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, July 1-2.
The camp came to JBA as a gift to the Youth Center here after the Andrews Commissary was announced one of 10 winners of a Procter & Gamble contest held during the Month of the Military Child.
During the event New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and his brother, Dan Gronkowski, former University of Maryland and National Football League player, spent time with military children offering football tips and instruction and playing in touch football games. The first through eigth graders were placed in small groups with several other coaches attending the event to ensure maximum instruction of each of the children.
Suzanne Dubois, who retired out of JBA, had two children in attendance and was excited for them to be at the camp.
"I think it's fantastic," she said as she and her husband watched their eight-year-old twins run up and down the field with the Gronkowskis. "They're having a blast. I really like that [the Gronkowskis] are rotating and going station to station and that it doesn't matter what capability the kid has, they're all still out here playing."
That's just the feeling Adam Ross, CEO of ProCamps Worldwide, hoped that everyone in attendance would have.
"I think first and foremost we want the kids to know that there are people that care. I think that's the most important thing," he said. "With what these kids go through -- with parents deployed and the challenges of military life, we want them to know that a guy like Rob Gronkowski, who could be sitting on a beach somewhere doing whatever he wanted, came to see them."
At the end of the day, the goal was simple: to have fun.
"I want them to have a memorable experience. I want these kids to watch Gronk on Sunday and be able to say, ' I caught a pass from that guy,'" Ross said. "I want them to have something they'll walk away with they can say was a great, fun and unique experience with one of the biggest characters in the NFL."
For Rob Gronkowski, the event allowed him to give back to a group that he feels sacrifices so much.
"Everyone in the military and Air Force, thank you for what you guys do," he said as the second day of camp came to a close. "Freedom isn't free. Everything you guys do to come out here and support our country and go overseas helps me do what I do on Sundays and play the game of football. It's just an honor to go out there and know that I'm protected and I have the freedom to go out there and play the game."
Col. Brad Hoagland, 11th Wing/JBA commander, was impressed with the camp.
"I think it's important for our youth to look at some role models who have competed at the National Football League level," he said. "These camps give them the skills and conditioning and motivate them to stay involved in team sports -- to be something bigger than themselves."
Additional ProCamps for military children are slated to be held throughout July at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.; and more. For a full listing visit https://www.commissaries.com/procamps/index.cfm