By: Tucker Harrington
New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko has been busy practicing with his teammates as of late, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t making time to give back to his community. The Boston Globe reports the athlete was recently announced as this year’s winner of the team’s Ron Burton Community Service Award during the annual Kickoff Gala at Gillette Stadium.
Mesko is well-deserving of the award as every Tuesday, without fail, the punter visits children who could use a little light in their days. Mesko visits with kids at local Boys and Girls Clubs, hospitals and many other outlets. Mesko told the news source he plays video games with the kids, does crafts and simply hangs out with them as a way to try and inspire them to keep fighting.
“It’s a humbling experience, I just feel like the stage we’re put on, we have the social responsibility as athletes to give back,” Mesko told the publication on the honor associated with these awards. “The biggest thing I focus on is children. Kids are where it’s at. They have this kind of magic in their eyes, they still have a lot ahead of them and when you see them sick that’s not where you want to see them. You want to put a smile on their face. You can’t quantify the difference you make by showing up and giving them something to smile about for that day.”
He added he feels it’s important to give back, especially given his family struggled in Romania before his father was picked to receive a green card to come to America during his childhood. There were 20 million applicants and only 55,000 winners.
“Coming from a really low point in your life, growing up in the Communism and a very bad economic situation, coming over here I’m very grateful for where I am,” Mesko told the news source.
He is the 10th player to be selected for the award, he joins Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo among others.
CBS Boston reports Mesko’s dedication to community service has truly placed him in a league of his own, according to Patriots owner Bob Kraft.
“Zoltan is one of the best punters in the league, but he may be the league’s current MVP for his contributions in the community,” Kraft said during the recent gala. “In the 18 years since we established the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, perhaps no player has accomplished more in the community in such a short amount of time.”