FOXBORO, MASS. (WHDH) - Patriots owner Robert Kraft was honored at Gillette Stadium Thursday night for his humanitarian efforts.

Beaming, Kraft climbed on stage in Foxboro in front of an excited crowd to accept the 2022 Ron Burton Humanitarian award.

“I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be here tonight to receive the Ron Burton Humanitarian Award from the family,” he said.

Ron Burton was the first player drafted by the Patriots and played for the team for six years. But it was after he hung up his helmet that Burton made an even bigger impact on the community.

“He never forgot where he came from, so it was his pleasure to want to give back. So he gave back everything,” said his son, Ron Burton Jr.

That is how the Ron Burton Training Village was born in 1985 out of Hubbardston, Massachusetts. The former Patriots player founded the program with a mission to help young people achieve their goals.

Burton passed away 18 years later in 2003.

“Ron’s original investment continues to pay dividends in ways I don’t think even he could have imagined,” Kraft said.

Patriots players Devin McCourty, David Andrews, and Matthew Slater joined the celebration and spoke about the importance of the legacy one leaves behind.

“We talk about Ron Burton Sr., we talk about Mr. Kraft, and two things both of those men have done is left a legacy,” said Slater. “Mr. Kraft is still leaving his and Ron burton’s Sr.’s is hard to measure.”

Guests at the event said Kraft has always supported Ron Burton’s mission in addition to many other causes nationally and locally.

“I can’t tell you how many times I called him when I was the major of Boston and asked him to help with something and do something great with the city of Boston,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said.

The award has been given out since 1991 and this year marked the first in-person ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Think about this: here we are tonight, more than 62 years after he was drafted, and we’re celebrating his legacy,” said Kraft. “I can’t think of another franchise that can say that about the first player they ever drafted.”

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