Lacing Up To Raise Awareness
Lacing Up To Raise Awareness
By Brandon Greene, NEHA Marketing and Communications Manager
Posted: December 21, 2022. Originally printed in NEHA’s Fall 2022 Newsletter.
Last season, New England Patriots rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, made headlines week after week for the impressive season he was having on the field—but he was also making a difference off the field.
Every year, the National Football League (NFL) allows players to wear customized cleats during Week 13 of the season in honor of a cause they have chosen to support through the My Cause, My Cleats initiative. After the game, all of the cleats are signed by the player and put up for auction, with all proceeds going to the respective non-profits.
When Jones took the field on December 6, 2021 against the Buffalo Bills during blustery winter weather, he was sporting bright blue cleats representing Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). The cleats were designed by Robbie Klein, a seven-year-old boy with hemophilia from West Roxbury, MA. Robbie loves playing golf and tennis, as well as swimming, but he isn’t cleared to play organized football—even though it is one of his favorite sports. While hemophilia prevents Robbie from being on the field to play football himself, this special opportunity allowed him to be on the field in a unique way with the Patriots’ star quarterback.
“We are ‘frequent flyers’ of the hospital, and because of this, we have developed strong relationships with hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital Trust staff. When they heard of this opportunity for someone at BCH to design cleats for Mac Jones, they thought of us and reached out. We were honored!
We are BIG sports fans here in the Klein household, so when Robbie found out about this opportunity, he was pumped! I don’t think any of us knew what the magnitude of the opportunity was when we were asked, but it has truly been incredible. I think my husband, Joel, was just as excited as Robbie!
BCH has become a second home and a second family to us, and we are thrilled to use our story to help highlight the lifesaving work they are doing. Likewise, NEHA and the bleeding disorders community is our “family”, and we were honored to be able to use our story to help amplify the voices of those in our community.”
– Kayla, Robbie’s mom
Robbie designed the cleats to have one read “Be Brave,” while the other sports his name. Through a massive smile, Robbie said, “It was very cool to see Mac wearing the cleats I made on the field! My friends though it was cool, and my teachers were also really excited to watch the game and see the cleats!”
After the Patriots defeated the Bills 14-10, the cleats were auctioned off to raise $10,100 for Boston Children’s Hospital. Speaking about the impact of the My Cause, My Cleats initiative, Katie Devine, Associate Director of Donor Relations for the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust said, “While raising important funds for our areas of greatest need, these programs also raise the visibility of the important work being done at Boston Children’s Hospital. Having a patient partner like Robbie makes a program like this even more special. It connects one of our incredible patients with someone like Mac, which creates lifelong memories for them both while working together to support Boston Children’s Hospital.”
This summer, Mac Jones invited Robbie to the New England Patriots Training Camp where the two were able to meet in-person. Asked about the special partnership with Robbie and Boston Children’s Hospital, Jones said, “As a rookie, I wanted to get involved with the Children’s Hospital. They mentioned Robbie and how much he loves sports and how he can’t play because of his condition, but that he loves to watch the Patriots. To be able to meet him face to face on the practice field today was just really cool for me.”
We’re incredibly thankful to Mac Jones, the New England Patriots, and the National Football League for their ongoing support of non-profits, like BCH, and for helping to highlight a member of our Wicked Strong Family while also raising awareness for bleeding disorders through the My Cause, My Cleats initiative.
Photos courtesy of the New England Patriots & Eric J. Adler.