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NFL players, military children 'Play 60'

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski (center) and former player Jon Williams (left) lead children through football drills in the Tennis Bubble April 23. As part of the Month of the Military Child celebration and NFL Play 60, past and present players from the New England Patriots as well as Patriots cheerleaders performed a free youth football and cheer clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski (center) and former player Jon Williams (left) lead children through football drills in the Tennis Bubble April 23. As part of the Month of the Military Child celebration and NFL Play 60, past and present players from the New England Patriots as well as Patriots cheerleaders performed a free youth football and cheer clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mark Herlihy)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- As part of the Month of the Military Child celebration and NFL Play 60, past and present players from the New England Patriots as well as Patriots cheerleaders performed a free youth football and cheer clinic at the Hanscom tennis bubble here April 23, 2014.

April was designated the Month of the Military Child by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger in 1986, recognizing the contribution the military child makes as their parent or parents serve in the armed forces.

"Our military children need to be celebrated too," said Ann-Marie Ely, the Hanscom Youth Center Youth Sports and Fitness director. "The month of April brings attention to the fact that military children sacrifice just as much as the military member."

Military children may face several obstacles while growing up in the military environment, including frequent moves, family separations and reintegration issues. Hanscom honors the sacrifices made by local military children here and appreciates that the Patriots have also joined in honoring our children.

"The kids loved being taught by professional athletes," said Ely. "They participated in six stations keeping them active and engaged, which promotes physical health."

Military children between the ages of 7 and 14 from installations throughout New England attended the event. Children participated in several stations including linebacker drills, kicking and punting, defensive back drills and a healthy food relay.

"It is an honor to be here and be able to do something special, be able to say thank you, to all these people doing a great job protecting our country," said Devin McCourty, Patriots defensive back.

Among those here from the Patriots were: Kanorris Davis, Marcus Forston, Nate Solder, Rob Gronkowski and McCourty.

New England Patriots players and cheerleaders joined more than 100 military children as part of the NFL Play 60 program. NFL Play 60 is an NFL program designed to inspire children to become more active and combat childhood obesity.

"I think it was fun and nice to get autographs and pictures," said Dylan Cheng-Lynn, the son of a deployed Airman.