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Nate Solder, Matthew Slater hit the links in support of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation 06.30.14 at 1:25 pm ET
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PLYMOUTH, Mass. —  Being an NFL football player takes a tremendous toll on one’€™s body. The long, scorching hot days of training camp leading to the daily grind of a regular season is incredibly tough to handle, both physically and mentally.

The time between the end of mini camp and the start of training camp gives players one last month to catch their breath and rejuvenate their bodies one last time before the start of the new season, which for the Patriots begins with the first day of training camp on July 24.

Left tackle Nate Solder and special teams specialist Matthew Slater spent one of their last free Monday’s relaxing, joining a number of former professional athletes and local celebrities for a round of golf at the Pinehills Golf Club supporting the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.

“Just continuing to train and get my body in shape,” Slater said of what the next month will be like for him. “You try and do the best you can for your body to prepare for an NFL season and that is a strenuous process, but one you enjoy at the same time. Just doing the best we can as individuals and as a team to get ourselves ready for what lies ahead.

“It’€™s definitely an exciting time of the year. You work all year to get to this point being the start of a new season. We put a lot of work in and there is still a lot of work to be put in. We’€™re just excited about the 2014 season and what is in store for us.”

Monday’€™s event will raise funds and awareness in support of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families make critical mortgage, rent and utility payments during financially-challenging times and to help fund pediatric brain cancer research. Last year’€™s tournament raised a record $278,000.

“It’€™s great support and seeing what we’€™re about –€“ that we are in the community, we’€™re apart of the community,” Andruzzi said of the support he gets from current Patriots players. “They are here playing for the Patriots, but they are also living in the community so we’€™re helping the people around them, people in this area and all throughout New England. For them to pay it forward and join forces with us is a great tribute to us.”

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Former Patriot Joe Andruzzi on M&M: ‘We’re going to finish what we started’ at Boston Marathon 04.15.14 at 12:47 pm ET
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Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, who helped injured bystanders at the finish line after last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the attacks. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Andruzzi was at the finish line to support individuals running on behalf of his charity, the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, when the bombs hit. He had been at Forum restaurant but moved shortly before one of the bombs exploded in front of the establishment.

“A lot of emotions, especially driving in today and being here today for the tribute,” he said. “Just when those memories kind of trigger in your brain and things comes to mind and you start thinking of what-ifs and things like that. You’ve got to push that aside and try and make it all positive. Seeing the faces here today and seeing the survivors and hearing some of their stories, it’s truly amazing what they’ve done in a year.

“For us as a group, an organization, how we’re moving forward. We’re going right back to Forum this year. We’re going to finish what we started and we’re going to stay strong and get out and cheer all of Boston Strong.”

Andruzzi said he thinks about last April 15 frequently, especially considering he and his wife could have been in the direct line of fire had he not decided to move closer to the finish line.

“Many times,” Andruzzi said. “The times of my wife standing right on the fence line looking for our runners, looking past the Forum restaurant, making sure they’re all right, cheering them on, taking a photo. Finally one of our youngest runners was coming through, and probably a half-hour before the bombs went off we chose to go down to the finish line. We were standing about 20 yards from the first bomb site.

“Seeing everything go down and go through and making our way back to Forum when my wife pointed out the three young girls trying to carry a woman on their back. That’s the infamous picture you guys all have seen. I ran over and said, ‘Let me help.’ The faces of the young girls in those pictures probably explains more of the story than anything — just the scariness, everything that was going on at that moment. And then finally walking her to the ambulance, making it back down to the Forum and finding out that the bomb was right in front of Forum was pretty heart-wrenching for me. Knowing that my whole staff, board members, we invited cancer patients, and all our runners’ families were there. Not knowing if everybody was OK, it was pretty scary.”

Andruzzi said he’s looking forward to being at Forum next Monday and taking a big step in the healing process.

“I think I’m more or less getting through today and putting those memories behind and making new memories now and moving forward, because once again, we can’t live in that fear,” he said. “We’ve got to move forward and prove people wrong, that we are coming back there as a community stronger than ever. And hence the two words: Boston Strong.”

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Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s annual gala set for Monday night in Foxboro 12.02.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi — a cancer survivor — is set to headline the feature event of the year for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Andruzzi, as well as several local celebrities and current and former Patriots, will get together for the sixth annual gala to help raise money for his foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families and supports pediatric brain cancer research at Boston Children’€™s Hospital.

The Andruzzi’s will be joined at the gala by many of his former Patriots teammates, as well as current players, celebrities and sports stars from across New England.

It’s an important night for Andruzzi, who has been instrumental in helping raise thousands of dollars to help fight cancer.

‘€œOur gala is such an important night for our Foundation, and with each year, I’€™m more appreciative I’€™m still here, and that my wife Jen and I get to do this work,” Andruzzi said. “We’€™re still in awe of how far we’€™ve come in six years, and humbled by our collective power to help others. The funds we raise at this year’€™s gala will continue to help us alleviate cancer’€™s financial burden on patients and families, as well as fund crucial pediatric brain cancer research, and we’€™re incredibly grateful to all those who have joined us along the way to make nights like tonight possible.’€

For more on Andruzzi and his work, check out their home page here. And for more information on Monday’s event, check out this page.

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Former Patriot Matt Chatham on M&M: ‘For some reason God spared us’ from death at Marathon 04.17.13 at 12:46 pm ET
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Former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, who helped victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday for an emotional recounting of his experience. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Chatham and another former Patriot, Joe Andruzzi, were near the finish line to support marathoners who were running to raise money and awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which aids cancer patients and their families. Chatham has estimated he was about 15 feet from the second explosion, yet he escaped relatively unscathed and was able to assist those who were seriously injured — including one woman who lost a foot in the blast.

“There’s still some people that we haven’t gotten word; I know the families probably want their privacy,” Chatham said. “But my wife and I are still laying awake at night wondering about that woman that we carried out, because she was one of the many that were really badly injured.

“There’s so many people from [the Andruzzi charity team] that were there helping. Our first instinct — the blast was in front of us — we were trying to get people off the street. Most of the carnage was right there in front of you. We were trying to get people back in the building. As I mentioned, I think there were some reports that Joe and I were helping people at the finish line; his deal was up there, we were back and more involved in the second blast.

“Our situation was there were a lot of I guess more of it being entrepreneurial, just makeshift, MacGyver-type situations. One of our friends was pouring drinks on a man that was burning, just trying to figure out ways to get him out. The woman that happened to move to the back of the alley way, I had to carry her because her foot had been blown off. She ended up at my wife’s feet. Like a nice husband and wife couple, we’re bickering about if I should be helping people in the street or if we should help people who had fallen in the restaurant. My thinking at the time was that the woman had simply tripped, and we just needed to help get her up and keep people moving. Then we turned and realized that she had had pretty traumatic injuries.

“It just speaks to sort of the chaos that’s around it. All of our sort of recollections will probably continue to meld here in the next several days and weeks. I think my account initially, I assumed she was blown into our area. But from accounts from some of the people near us were telling me that she actually crawled to that spot and needed to be carried. We’re really uncertain. It’s just that — I know it’s not war, but that fog of war kind of feel.

“Again, so many heroic things that happened that day. I’m just a tiny part of it. It really doesn’t seem right.”

Added Chatham: “If there’s anything good that came of this, I just think the volunteers that are involved in this thing are incredible people. The fact that we ended up carrying people out was just because we were there. We tend to hang out with all the kind of people that would always carry people out. I don’t know anyone that would have stepped over those people and not aided them.”

Chatham said the charity team members he’s spoken with are of the same frame of mind, that they are grateful to be alive and ready to make more of a difference going forward.

“The rest of the foundation and all the people that were there close and that for whatever reason are still here, most of our conversations have surrounded around how blessed we are and how we were out there for a good cause to begin with, and this seems like another lease on life,” he said. “It’s like we really have more good work to do. For some reason God spared us. For some reason that bomb didn’t make those few more feet back. I think we all feel like now’s the time to get to work and really make something positive out of all of this.”

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Former Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi set to host gala at Gillette in December 11.02.12 at 12:42 am ET
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The Joe Andruzzi Foundation will celebrate five years of successful fundraising for cancer patients and their families with the New England Celebrities Tackle Cancer Gala, set for December 3 at Gillette Stadium.

Andruzzi, a former Patriots guard who has waged his own battle against cancer, will bring together supporters, celebrities and athletes, including current and former Patriots players, for what is anticipated to be a record-breaking fundraiser. All proceeds raised through the event will go toward helping the Joe Andruzzi Foundation provide more cancer patients with financial assistance, as well as supporting pediatric brain cancer research.

‘€œThis has been a monumental year for the Foundation; we’€™re blessed to help more cancer patients and provide more support for research at Boston Children’€™s Hospital than ever before,’€ Andruzzi said. ‘€œBut helping more people requires additional support from our community, and we plan to make this year’€™s gala our best yet.  We’€™re honored to once again invite our friends and supporters to join us for this fun and heart-warming benefit in hopes of raising significant funds to help families with their bills during treatment. Jen and I know the cancer battle all too well, and every little bit truly helps.’€

Individual tickets to the fifth annual gala are available exclusively at JAFGala.org. Information regarding a limited number of remaining sponsorship packages is available online, or by contacting the Foundation directly at 774-284-4694 or emailing gala@joeandruzzifoundation.org.

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Joe Andruzzi likes the look of the Patriots’ offensive line 06.10.12 at 2:33 pm ET
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Late last week, I had the opportunity to talk with former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi about his post-football life, which includes heading up the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, as well as working as a part-time strength and conditioning coach with the Patriots.

Andruzzi, the starting left guard on all three Super Bowl-winning teams, was a regular presence on the field during the most recent round of OTA’€™s, and said so far, he likes what he sees, despite the fact that there are a lot of new faces.

‘€œNot just on the offensive line, but there are a lot of new faces everywhere in the locker room,’€ he said. ‘€œThat being said, the aura around the offensive line is still there. These guys still know that regardless of whether you’€™re a veteran or a guy just getting here off the street, that this is a football team where you’€™re held accountable for everything you do, on and off the field. You always have to worry about doing your job and getting it right.

‘€œI think across the board, these guys are hungry. A lot of the younger guys just want a chance, and they’€™ll do everything they can to make the most of that chance,’€ he added. ‘€œSpecifically, in regards to the offensive linemen, it’€™s a group of real hardworking guys. They’€™ve all been consistent through the offseason program. They’€™ve done a great job of sticking together — the guys usually stick together by position, and they all try and push each other. This is a group of real competitors.’€

The offensive line is in a bit of a state of flux, with starting left tackle Matt Light now retired, starting left guard Logan Mankins coming off a serious knee injury and starting right guard Brian Waters hinting at retirement. New faces include veteran Robert Gallery, as well as younger guys like Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon and Donald Thomas, all of whom are ready to assume larger roles in 2012.

Andruzzi isn’€™t worried about any sort of breakdown in continuity — not as long as Dante Scarnecchia is in charge.

‘€œDante is by far one of the best coaches in that staff,’€ Andruzzi said of Scarnecchia, who will be entering his31st season in the league and his 13th straight year as New England’€™s offensive line coach. ‘€œYou can give him five guys off the street and he’€™ll get them ready to play at a high level.’€

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Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi remains rock solid 06.07.12 at 12:01 am ET
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When he played for the Patriots from 2000 through 2004, offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi was accorded as the toughest guy in the locker room. The offensive lineman started at left guard for all three of New England’€™s Super Bowl teams, and left a legacy of consistency and durability that few have matched.

He’€™s kept that same sort of resolve in the next phase of his life as well. In addition to his work as a part-time strength and conditioning coach with the Patriots, Andruzzi — a cancer survivor himself — heads up the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which is geared toward providing financial assistance for patients and their families as well as funding pediatric brain cancer research

Andruzzi, who underwent his own battle with non-Hodgkin’€™s lymphoma five years ago (he’€™s now in remission), said he can identify with the families who are going through the trauma that comes along with fighting cancer.

‘€œWe know what they’€™re going through,’€ Andruzzi said. ‘€œI was in the hospital, and I felt those walls closing in around me. It was tough. Thankfully, I got paid very well over the course of my career, so we could take care of the bills. But others aren’€™t as fortunate.

‘€œPeople have mortgages and rent and utility bills that sit at home when they are in the hospital. Those bills don’€™t have anything to do with medical bills, but they still need to get paid as much as the other bills.’€

One of Andruzzi’€™s major fundraisers is right around the corner, as he will be hosting the fourth annual Joe Andruzzi and Friends golf tournament, set for June 18 at the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Rob Ninkovich are listed as special guests hosts for the event, which will include a round of golf, a helicopter ball drop and a live auction with all sorts of memorabilia. (For more on the event, as well as a look at the work the Andruzzi foundation is doing, click here.)

For Andruzzi, seeing so many current and former Patriots come up to help raise money for such a worthy cause is gratifying.
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