Myra Kraft on mind at Kickoff Gala

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots' annual Charitable Foundation Kickoff Gala took on additional meaning for players like Kevin Faulk with the recent passing of Myra Kraft.

"[This year's event means a] little more than it normally means with Ms. Myra passing," Faulk said before Tuesday's event. "With the charitable foundation that she started, it’s going to mean a little more to people in the organization, the people that have been around here for a long time. It’s what [the Kraft family does], that’s what they’ve been doing for a long time, and they want to continue on doing it. I think they’re going to try to make it as special as possible."


A glimpse at Tuesday night's festivities at Gillette Stadium.During the event, Josh Kraft announced that Patriots Community MVP Awards will be renamed Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards. Kraft was also memorialized in a video tribute that aired during the event.

There were lighter moments to the festivities, including rookie offensive lineman Nate Solder being called on stage by his teammates to reveal one of many cringe-worthy rookie haircuts the veterans administered in advance of the event. Solder's cut left no hair on the top of his head, merely on the sides.

The team's entire 2011 roster was on hand -- and introduced to kick off the festivities -- at the rebranded and refurbished Putnam Club. Players mingled with fans before the event, signing autographs and snapping pictures.

The gala is an annual fundraiser for the Patriots' charitable foundation. Monies raised help fund many causes throughout New England. Since its inception in 1994, the foundation has awarded thousands of in-kind donations and grants to regional charities and non-profit organizations, totaling millions of dollars.

"The importance of thinking a little more about others, and not about yourself, is something that’s always been high here in this organization," Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light said. "We go out there and we play a great game, we’re very fortunate to do so and guys put a lot on the line and work very hard to do that. But at the end of the day, when you keep things in perspective, a night like this helps do that. We understand there’s people out there that struggle, that don’t have it as well as you do. The fact that we do take note of that is pretty important."

For Light, the event also signifies the start of another football season, something that couldn't be taken for granted during this summer's lockout.

"It signifies the beginning of a new year," Light said. "The biggest thing though, the emphasis that’s placed on the gala, aside from all the hoopla on the new season and everything else, is a chance to show what the Patriots Charitable Foundation is all about, what we stand for as a team, as an organization, and ultimately, recognizing someone that has gone out there and done something in the community and made an impact and given back. That’s what this is all about."