Whether you love the New England Patriots or loathe them, you gotta like this story.
Last Sunday, during halftime of the regular season finale versus the New York Jets, the team honored volunteers who make a difference in the world.
During every home game this year, they recognized a “Patriots Difference Maker of the Week.” On Sunday, each received a $5,000 grant to support the nonprofits for which they volunteer.
And guess who got a special $20,000 grant — sort of a Super Bowl championship for all Difference Makers?
Sara Deren of Westport.
She and her husband Jon founded Experience Camps. Headquartered right here in town, the organization runs summer camps for children grieving the death of a parent or sibling.
In just 10 years Experience Camps has grown from one site and 27 youngsters, to a network of 5 camps nationwide. Last summer, 200 volunteers served 600 boys and girls ages 8 to 18.
Doing all the typical camp activities — and, guided by clinicians, remembering the loved one who died while developing the tools they need to work through grief — Experience Camp campers enjoy life-affirming, life-changing opportunities.
The New England Patriots Foundation receives hundreds of nominations for Difference Makers each year.
When the Foundation — along with Pats chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett — honored Sara on Sunday, it was a moment when, for once, Patriots and Jets fans could stand and cheer together.
Sara Deren is definitely a winner.
PS: So were the Patriots. They beat the Jets 38-3.