Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made a surprise visit to a teenager's home in Amherst last week, providing a moment to cherish.
Kelsey, a 14-year-old freshman at Amherst High, was hospitalized in October 2018 with a severe case of pancreatitis. Her condition quickly worsened and doctors in Cincinnati determined that her pancreas was not producing enough enzymes. On Dec. 1, 2019, she had her pancreas, spleen, appendix and gallbladder removed and will have diabetes and need an insulin pump for the rest of her life.
She has returned home and begun training to again play soccer.
In January, her mother, Roxanne, wrote to the Gronkowski family and told them about Kelsey's situation. She was hoping that Rob might provide a signed item. A chance to meet him was a "long shot," she realized. She didn't tell Kelsey that she had reached out.
Then the phone rang last Wednesday and it was Gordie Gronkowski Sr. He said they would be over in five minutes, but Roxanne didn't know if "they" meant Rob, too.
Sure enough, the doorbell rang and there was Rob and Gordie. Rob provided two signed footballs and a jersey and posed for photos.
“They spent time talking to all of us and made this girls dream come true," Roxanne wrote. "Rob is truly a class act and an amazing person. Kelsey hasn’t stopped smiling. She will remember this forever."
The second ball will be used as an auction item at a fundraiser on March 28 at the Main-Transit Fire Department (6777 Main St., Williamsville). Roxanne said all the money raised at the event will go to offset transplant-related expenses.
For more information, visit the COTA for Kelsey Facebook group.