Chung Changing Lives Open Mic Karaoke Fundraiser 2015

Chung Changing Lives Open Mic Night 2015 - 1

Our new favorite holiday tradition is to spend a karaoke-filled December night with the Chung family and friends. Monday, December 7 marked the second annual Open Mic Karaoke Fundraiser, with proceeds from this year’s event benefiting Chung Changing Lives and the United Way. The new venue, Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Howl at the Moon (a dueling piano bar chain), provided a more intimate experience than the prior year, which I thought was great because I got to stand right next to the stage most of the night!

Chung Changing Lives - Open Mic 2015 - 2

What I love about this event is that it’s really a family affair for the Chungs. From bringing up their son on-stage to sing the first song of the night to other family members walking around making sure everyone was having a great time, it’s clear that this event is close to their heart.

In addition to event sponsorships and individual ticket sales, a silent auction and live auction helped to raise funds. Attendees who brought coats for the United Way coat drive (myself included!) got to skip ahead in the line at the door.

Similar to last year, Santa made an appearance and after a belting out a Christmas carol, made everyone’s night with his rendition of Snoop Dogg’s classic “Gin and Juice.” Pats TE Scott Chandler was one of the first players to brave the stage, singing a memorable rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Although he was thrown off by the Kendrick Lamar rap (“This is not the version on the album!”), he definitely got an A for effort!

Chung Changing Lives - Open Mic 2015 - 5

The event was hosted by Jermaine “Wiggy” Wiggins, a Boston native who played for the Patriots from 2000-2002 and is now the voice of my morning drive as one of the DJs of Hot 96.9’s Get Up Crew. Wiggy brought a fan up onstage to help him sing “Hello” – the Lionel Richie version, and not the Adele version (although Adele’s hit would make a memorable appearance later in the night).

Chung Changing Lives - Open Mic 2015 - 3

As you can see in the picture above, several players spent their fair share of time on-stage, including former Patriot Marquice Cole (taking the selfie), Brandon LaFell, Devin McCourty, and Brandon Bolden. Things really started picking up when this group did The Notorious B.I.G’s (a.k.a Biggie, Biggie Smalls, y’all know who I’m talking about) “Juicy.”

Devin McCourty was probably the most energetic of the night. After he sang Usher and Alicia Keys’ “My Boo” with his fiance Michelle, as seen below, he succeeded in pulling many of the other players on stage.

Chung Changing Lives - Open Mic 2015 - 4

Comedian Lenny Clarke, seen below, ran the live auction. Attendees bid for playoff tickets, Pat Chung’s signed replica of the Lombardi trophy, and a chance to play FIFA (the video game) with Pat Chung and Julian Edelman.

Also seen below on the right is Brandon “Jojo” LaFell and his wife, Kristin. I have to give props to the LaFells because they have been involved in a lot of charity events since they arrived in New England. (In fact, LaFell made an appearance at the Patriots Children’s Christmas party held the following night.) I would also put the Chandlers (Scott and his wife Alissa) in the category of 2015 charity event superstars, as they attended the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Gratitude Gala, among other events this year.

Chung Changing Lives - Open Mic 2015 - 7

Other players who made an appearance included Julian Edelman, Gronk, Duron Harmon, Stephen Gostkowski, Nate Ebner, Logan Ryan, Cameron Fleming, Tavon Wilson, and Ryan Allen. Towards the end of the night, attendees did have opportunities to take pictures with the players. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t. Apparently, I wasn’t on my game that night. I wish I had gotten at least one. Not gonna lie, my eyebrow game was on fleek.)

One thing that I really liked about this year was that for certain songs the players pulled up people in the audience. As you can see below, a bunch of ladies took them up on the chance to belt out Adele’s “Hello.” Always the entertainer, Devin McCourty hopped behind the piano on the stage and dramatically pretended to accompany the ladies.

Chung Changing Lives - Open Mic 2015 - 8

To learn more about Chung Changing Lives, click here. To see pictures from last year’s event, click here and if you want to see some more pictures from the event, click here.

To the Chung family and all of the event organizers – thanks again for a great night! Sooo…is it too early to start counting down for next year?

-Michelle

Joe Andruzzi Foundation Gratitude Gala 2015

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015 has been circled on my calendar for quite some time. Ever since we profiled the Joe Andruzzi Foundation for a Charity Spotlight post, their annual gala has been on my Snap bucket list.

I was fortunate enough to attend this year, purchasing my ticket with the expectation of a fun night that would include a three-course meal, a live auction, and the opportunity to meet some NFL players.  Little did I know when I bought my ticket that I would be able to walk away with so much more than that.

The event started at 6pm and was held in the Putnam Club at Gillette Stadium. For those of you wondering, the view from the club looks like this:

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Field View

Maybe I’m a football nerd, but that view never gets old.

The night kicked off with a cocktail hour where guests were able to check out the many items up for auction. Autographed jerseys were among the most popular silent auction items.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Jerseys

Guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers while mingling and placing their bids for the silent auction.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Silent Auction Board

Several Pats players made appearances at the cocktail hour to sign autographs. Pictured below is TE Scott Chandler. I had a chance encounter with his wife after I complimented her shoes. (Before you think I’m creepy, I didn’t realize it was his wife at the time. I can’t help myself from gushing about footwear if someone has fabulous taste in shoes.)

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Scott Chandler

Other players at the event included Rob Ninkovich, Pat Chung, Stephen Gostkowski, and past Patriots Matt Chatham and Troy Brown. (I believe Matt Slater made an appearance later in the night and Nate Solder was there as well in the role of keynote speaker.) I have a feeling there were other players, but it was difficult to tell considering there were about 800 attendees.

Pictured below is my girl Linda with Pat Chung. (Linda gets a shout-out because she let me hang out and drink wine with her crew once she realized that I was flying solo.)

JAF Gratitude Gala - Pat Chung

Around 7:15, we entered the dining area and I was blown away by the way the room was decorated. Volunteers clearly put a lot of time into creating the beautiful space. The table settings were gorgeous.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Table Setting

I was fortunate enough to sit with some great people at table 77. One thing that struck me throughout the night was how many attendees personally knew Joe and Jen Andruzzi. Everyone talked about how they are some of the nicest, most genuine people. It quickly became evident that the kindness they have shown others is one of the biggest reasons they get so much support in return for events like this.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Menu

Dinner was a three-course meal, which included a tasty salad, a main entrée with chicken, beef, and assorted vegetables, and a dessert tray featuring whoopie pies, cookies, and other sweets.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Dinner

Scott Zolak, a sportscaster and prior Pats quarterback, acted as the Master of Ceremonies. Joe Andruzzi welcomed guests and introduced Nate Solder as the night’s keynote speaker.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Joe Andruzzi

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nate’s story, he was drafted in the first round by the Patriots in 2011. Up until his season-ending injury this year, he had been a constant on the o-line, protecting Tom Brady’s blind side. In April of this year, he revealed his battle with testicular cancer prior to the 2014 season.

Along with the rest of the crowd, I fully expected Nate to talk about his own experience with cancer. His speech took an unexpected turn when he started to talk about his 3-month-old son, Hudson. There was a collective intake of breath when Nate revealed that his son was diagnosed with kidney cancer in October.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Nate Solder

I don’t know how Nate was able to hold it together to share his family’s story. Tears welled up in my eyes as he shared how life changed overnight with the discovery of Hudson’s tumor. To hear Nate describe his son’s treatments (Hudson has four chemotherapy treatments down and 15 more to go) was absolutely heartbreaking.

As someone who kept his own cancer diagnosis private, I can only imagine how difficult it was for Nate to share this news with the world. During his speech, he mentioned that his wife told him that it was more important than ever to talk about Hudson as part of his keynote speech, knowing that there are other people out there that receive this heartbreaking diagnosis on daily basis. It was a somber reminder that cancer does not discriminate.

You can watch a portion of Nate’s speech here. Get your tissues ready.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Solder Family

While surprising and emotional, I don’t know that a more fitting keynote speech could have been made that night. If I had to guess, it provided even more of an incentive for attendees to bid during the live auction, which followed Nate’s keynote speech and a JAF mission video.

Paul Zekos, the auctioneer, was extremely entertaining and did a great job of getting people to raise their bidding cards. Most of the people in attendance are probably in a different tax bracket than me and that was excellent news for the Foundation.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Auction Card

The live auction included thirteen items – many of which created entertaining bidding wars. The biggest bid of the night (two people each bid $23k) was for a package that included QB Jimmy Garoppolo and C Bryan Stork acting as bartenders for your personal event. What made it even better was the fact that they would be bartending from a refurbished Airstream trailer, which I got to check out on my way into the event. (Unfortunately, Jimmy and Bryan were not manning the bar at that time. Bummer.)

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Airstream

Other notable auction items that I would have been raising my yellow bid card for if I had more disposable income, were the Punt, Snap, Kick package (included a one hour clinic and two-hour dinner with K Stephen Gostkowsi, LS Joe Cardona and P Ryan Allen, along with autographed merch) and dinner with the O-line at Maggiano’s in Boston. Unfortunately, I did not make fast friends with the lucky winners of these bids, but there is always next year, right?

The night ended with Joe and Jen Andruzzi (seen below) awarding Lisa and Ed Medeiros of presenting sponsor East Commerce Solutions with the 2015 (Up)Beat Cancer Award in honor of the support they have given the Foundation.

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Jen Andruzzi

Last year’s event raised over $900,000 for the foundation. I will update the post with this year’s proceeds as soon as they are released. (Personally, I’m crossing my fingers that they were able to cross the $1 million mark!)

JAF Gratitude Gala 2015 - Michelle

If you would like to donate to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation in honor of Hudson Solder (tell me he isn’t one of the cutest babies ever), click here. Proceeds of the fund will benefit JAF’s mission of providing financial assistance to cancer patients and their families – allowing them to focus on recovery, not mounting rent/mortgage, utility, or other household bills.

For more information on the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, click here.

Thank you to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation and all of its volunteers for putting on such a great event!

– Michelle

Snap Road Trip: Patriots In-Stadium Practice 2015

Patriots In-Stadium 2015

A few years ago, Val and I made a good friend at training camp. After connecting over a mutual love of taking football photographs, he offered us tickets to the annual in-stadium practice the Patriots hold for season ticket holders and Foxborough residents. Every year since then, he has kept us in mind if he finds himself with extra tickets.

Well, this year he had extra tickets and naturally, we told him we would take them off his hands.

Before I delve into all the juicy details, you’re probably wondering why Val looks so different in the picture above. Well, I fired her.

JUST KIDDING.

(We all know that would never happen. She’s done so much for me, she’s got dibs on my first 14 kids.)

Sadly, she just couldn’t get her butt up to Massachusetts in time. Lame.

Luckily, my amazing friend and Snap super-fan Laura went out of her way to make sure I didn’t have to sit alone at practice. (When a friend makes a rush-hour trek from north of the city to Foxborough, you realize she probably has dibs on your 15th child, but I digress.)

This year, the in-stadium practice was held on Wednesday, August 5. The Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Willie McGinest was held immediately before the practice right outside the stadium.

Pats In-Stadium Practice - Willie McGinist

For those of us in the stadium, the ceremony was broadcast on the large screens. My favorite moment was when Mr. Kraft presented Willie, who played for the Pats from 1994 to 2005, with a ceremonial one-day contract so he could retire as part of the team.

Practice started at the conclusion of the ceremony. Per usual, the night kicked off with some brief special teams work and then team stretching.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - stretching

Love the “buddy stretching” between 27 and 53.

Besides seeing the players up close, one of my favorite parts of the in-stadium practice is getting the opportunity to sit in seats that most of us can’t usually afford for a regular season game. Case in point – Laura and I sat in the first row near the fifty yard line on the visitor’s side of the stadium, which allowed for some excellent photographs. (Usually this is Val’s domain. I did the best I could without her, but she always seems to capture some pretty great moments.)

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - observe snap

Early on in the night, we also got a close glimpse of Coach Belichick and coaching staff assistant Mike Lomardi. Bill – this could have been a great picture if you hadn’t blinked. We’ll try again next year.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - Belichick and Lombardi

A strong contender for most photogenic player of the night was RB LeGarrette Blount. Dude is always cheesin’.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - cheesin Blount

One of the other perks of attending the in-stadium practice is that an announcer intermittently explains what’s happening on the field. The running commentary on the drills and the purpose behind them can be really helpful.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - DB drills

The definite highlight of my night was when the quarterbacks moved closer to our section of the stands. One very loud fan (he was a grown man, shocking, I know) started yelling Tom’s name to get his attention. Brady kept a straight face until the fan offered to buy him a frozen lemonade and for some reason, that comment cracked through Brady’s facade. With a big grin on his face, Brady started laughing and shaking his head. (I didn’t quite capture the moment on camera because it was so unexpected and I was laughing as well.) It was nice to see a human moment like that from one of the most high-profile athletes in the country, especially considering the stress of the Deflategate debacle.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - Brady

I can’t complain about much, but if I had to make one recommendation to the event organizers, it would be to move the VIP on-field seating, or escort some players behind the VIP seating to the fans in the stands when it comes time for autographs.

I recommend the in-stadium practice to friends looking to get autographs because, unlike regular training camp practices, almost all the players are allowed to sign at the conclusion of practice. Your chances of getting an autograph are pretty good, even if it’s from a guy who may not make the final cut. Unfortunately, our section and many of the sections of the visitor’s side were directly behind VIP on-field seating. The people in those seats rushed all of the players in that area, keeping many of them from reaching the plebeians in general seating. Sorry if it sounds like I drank some Hater-ade this morning (I’m sure some of those VIPs were very deserving), but I can’t tell you how disappointed some of the kids next to me were.

Although Gronk and LeGarrette looked like promising autograph signers for my section, they didn’t quite make it over. We did get FB Eric Kettani (who was sadly released today in order for the Reggie Wayne signing to happen) and TE Scott Chandler.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - Scott Chandler, Gronk

Also, the autograph portion of the night showed what a better person Laura is than me. She moved up to the second row so that some little kids could have her first row spot. I stuck it out in the first row, not necessarily wanting an autograph, but definitely not ready to give up prime real estate for short people who don’t even have all of their adult teeth. (Was it wrong of me to judge them when they didn’t even recognize Scott Chandler? He was only one of the MOST EXCITING SIGNINGS OF THE OFF-SEASON. Kids these days…)

I also may or may not have been the ringleader of some aggressive player name chanting.

All in all, I would call the night a success – great company, beautiful weather, and all the football drills a girl could ask for. Can’t wait for next year!

– Michelle

Snap Road Trip: Patriots Training Camp 2015

Val and Michelle - 2015 Training Camp

There’s a quote I keep seeing on Pinterest about soul mates. Apparently, someone’s got a theory that when you meet your soul mate, instead of a pounding heart, shaking hands, and weak knees, you feel complete calm. No anxiety, no agitation, just calm.

If that’s true, then Patriots training camp is our soul mate. This was our seventh year making an appearance at camp and as soon as we entered through the gates, we both felt a sense of amazing calm come over us. When we’re back on the practice fields in Foxborough, it’s as though all is right in the world.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Group Walking

If you’re unfamiliar with training camp and how it works, it is a series of practices held by each team prior to the regular season. The majority of training camp practices are open to the public and are generally free to attend. It’s the best way to be up close to the football action if you can’t afford tickets to a game.

If you need more reasons to go to your nearest training camp, check out our post on the Top 10 Reasons to Go to Training Camp.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Brady, McDaniels

We’re planning on attending a few more days of camp this year, but Val got some excellent shots on day one and we couldn’t wait to share them with you!

Pats Training Camp 2015 - WRs

We’ve taken 543 pictures so far this year at training camp. Bless the person who invented large memory cards. Of course, we’re only posting the best shots here on The Snap, just for you. You’re welcome.

You can only imagine what a hardship it was for us to sort through these pictures of our favorite team…

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Nate Solder

The crowd this year was unlike any other that we’ve been a part of the last few years. Considering current events (starts with “deflate” and ends with “gate”), it was awesome to see such a vocal crowd. Support for Tom Brady was unquestionable – he got loud cheers coming onto the field and throughout the two and a half hour session.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - action shots

Coach Bill Belichick is always really easy to spot on the field. He’s usually rocking a visor, some shorts, and the navy top you see below, or a hoodie with the sleeves cut off. Considering how warm it was (in the 80s, but it felt like hotter when we were sitting in the direct sun on the bleachers), we understand why the hoodie was a no-go.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Brady, Belichick

Last year’s camp was all about the battle of the long snapper. This year, the core special teams members weren’t facing much competition, as Belichick used a fifth round draft pick for LS Joe Cardona, and P Ryan Allen and K Stephen Gostkowski just signed three and four year deals, respectively, with the team.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Kickoff

How about this great photo of tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, a.k.a. Hoo-Man? The tall guy next to him, number 88, is Scott Chandler, who was a free agent this year. He used to be a pain for the Patriots to cover each year when he played in Buffalo. As Pats fans, we’re pretty psyched to see him line up with Gronk. We did notice QB Jimmy Garoppolo taking some time to work separately with the two towering tight ends and it gave us all sorts of warm fuzzy football feelings.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Hoo-Man

We found it pretty entertaining when the entire offense had to run a penalty lap. We didn’t realize it at the time, but according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the defense apparently returned the ball during an 11-0n-11 drill and Belichick was not happy.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Offense Lap

The pictures you get really depend on your proximity to certain position groups. The Patriots have two practice fields, so the players and coaches are spread over a relatively wide area and there numerous drills going on at any given time.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - QB handoff

We love the fact that the Patriots hand you a roster as you enter camp. With 90 players on the team at the start of training camp, it’s helpful to have a cheat sheet, especially considering the number of rookies.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - 11 on 11 drill

The only bad thing about the roster is that it also contains all of the players’ ages, and considering that we are now both older than many of these guys, it doesn’t do much for our egos. Yes, we may still get carded, but when we start to admire the players’ athletic assets (not going to lie, it happens), you wonder if you’ve entered cougar territory.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Hightower

One of our favorite parts of camp every year is when the team runs two-minute drills. This gives the offense a chance to practice making their way down the field with plays that they would use once the two-minute warning has been given in a game. Overall, we did notice the quicker pace with which the team was doing just about everything. The Patriots are known for their fast-paced offense, but it’s interesting to see how that is incorporated so early on in the season.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Garappolo at line

At the end of practice, after the big team huddle, the team breaks out into position groups to debrief and stretch.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - QB Stretch

Each day at training camp, a different group of players signs autographs. On the day we went, the quarterbacks (Brady, Garoppolo, and Flynn) and some of the running backs made the rounds. The players were given about 15 minutes and a Sharpie marker to make the dreams of kids and grown man-children come true.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Autographs

We don’t usually go for autographs on these days. Unless you have a baby that you can offer up Simba/Rafiki style to get signed, it’s difficult to get a signature without people getting unnecessarily aggressive. We just stand back and take pictures, like the ones of Brady and Flynn below.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Brady and Flynn

The shot below of Jimmy Garoppolo gives you some perspective on the amount of people waiting for autographs. There’s a lot of them.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Autographs Jimmy

At the end of practice, the families of players and coaches join them on the field. Training camp involves long days for the players and the coaching staff, so it’s nice to see them get a few minutes with their families.  We love these shots we got of Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and his family.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Josh McDaniels and family

This year was also great because we were sitting next to some really friendly people. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who share your affinity for football and don’t mind swapping stories.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Thank You Exit Sign

Did you go to training camp this year? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comments below.

– Michelle and Val

Snap Road Trip: Dominique Easley’s Champs Camp

Dominique Easley Champs Camp 2015

This past weekend, the Snap sisters had their first experience at an NFL players’ youth football camp and it was fantastic. Even though our time on the field at Hormel Stadium in Medford, MA, was limited to taking pictures and observing football drills (one of us would have definitely been injured if we tried to play), we can’t say enough about Dominique Easley’s first annual Champs Camp.

Dominique Easley is a Patriots defensive tackle who was drafted by the team in 2014 as a first-round pick. Although you didn’t see much of him in the media over the last year, he and his sister, Destinee have been making the rounds with Boston media recently to promote his Champs Camp event and fibromyalgia awareness.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with fybromyalgia, it’s a disorder involving chronic widespread pain. Destinee Easley was diagnosed with it in 2011. There is no cure for the disease, but there are treatments that can help reduce symptoms.

With this in mind, Dominique created Easley’s Awareness to raise knowledge about fibromyalgia and funding for research.

This is where the Champs Camp comes into play. Not only was it a way for Dominique to give back to Boston youth through football, but a portion of proceeds went to fibromyalgia research. Double whammy.

Dominique Easley - Champs Camp 2015

The 6-hour camp was open to kids ages 6-17 and provided the opportunity of a lifetime to be coached by five outstanding Patriots players: DT Dominique Easley, LB Jerod Mayo, DE Chandler Jones, WR Aaron Dobson, and DE Zach Moore.

We hung out for the entirety of the event, met some awesome people, and took some phenomenal pictures.

Exhibit A: Dominique and his son with the campers.

Dominique Easley and son - Champs Camp 2015

Cue hearts melting everywhere.

One of the highlights of our day was chatting with Destinee Easley, Dominique’s 16-year-old sister and the motivation behind Easley’s Awareness.

One of the first things you notice about Destinee is her smile – she’s got a great one. From her cheerful disposition, you would never know the challenges she’s had to face as a result of her fibromyalgia diagnosis.

When I asked Destinee what she wished people knew about the disease, her response was that fibromyalgia is an invisible pain. Just because you can’t see the pain, doesn’t mean it’s not there. She credits God, her family, and music for helping her get through the tough days. She’s got big plans for her future, as she’s hoping to study film and television at USC.

(Michelle also wants to point out that Destinee shares her love for large hoop earrings, so clearly her fashion sense is on point as well.)

In short, Destinee Easley is awesome.

Destinee and Erica Easley - Champs Camp

Destinee’s mother, Erica, was also an absolute pleasure to meet. When talking to her, it was easy to tell how proud she is of her children. She came over to us several times throughout the day to ask if we were enjoying ourselves and by the time the camp came to an end, I was ready to hug her goodbye.

Easley Champs Camp 2015

One of the best things about this experience was how accessible the players were.

Exhibit B: Somewhere under this pile of children is Chandler Jones. (Clearly they did not know about his off-season hip surgery.)

Chandler Jones pile - Dominique Easley 2015 Champs Camp

When they weren’t coaching the camp participants, the players were signing autographs and taking pictures. I didn’t see them turn one person down, which made a lot of kids (and their parents) very happy.

Speaking of pictures, we got a great one with Pats defensive end Zach Moore. Super nice guy and also super tall, as you can see below.

Zach Moore - Easley Champs Camp 2015

We also have to say that campers got their moneys worth with Jerod Mayo. That man needs to be a coach as soon as he retires from the NFL. His enthusiasm for leading the campers through drills was contagious. We were ready to run onto the field and practice fumble recoveries just so that we could get a Mayo high-five.

Easley Champs Camp 2015 - Jones, Mayo

In addition to a day full of drills and player interaction, participants were given t-shirts, lunch and a goodie bag from sponsor Modell’s. Coaches from Medford High School and players from the Somerville Rampage semi-pro football team also made the event a success by volunteering their time.

The other thing that really impressed us was when we found out that Dominique and his event organizers reached out to the community to invite kids with special needs. Taking the extra step to include kids who may not have thought participation was an option says something about Dominique’s character.

Easley Champs Camp 2015

Easley Champs Camp 2015

Easley Champs Camp 2015 - Dominique and Son

We’d like to thank Dominique Easley, his family, and his Brand Architects team for letting us come spend the day with them! For more information on Easley’s Awareness, be sure to check out their website and Facebook page.

– Michelle and Val

Snap Road Trip: Patriots Super Bowl Victory Parade

Robert Kraft Super Bowl Parade 2015 Patriots

Despite what you may think, we have not fallen off the face of the Earth since our last post. While it would not be unreasonable for you to assume that I was buried under a mountain of snow, the sad truth is that I got pulled onto a work assignment that had me working many, many hours (and questioning some life choices, but that’s a story for another day). With no games to recap and a lull in NFL news, Val hasn’t quite known what to do with herself.

Lame excuses, we know, but no worries – we’ve got lots of good content in the pipeline, starting with this recap of the Patriots Super Bowl Victory Parade, which was held on Wednesday, February 4, 2015.

Sure, it was a workday and the snow mounds were abundant, but that wasn’t going to keep me and thousands of other Pats fans from lining Bolyston and Tremont Streets to cheer for the champs. With temps in the 30s, it was downright balmy outside. I positioned myself near the end of the parade route, across from the Granary Burying Ground and with only about three rows of people in between me and the duck boats, I had a pretty good view of the action.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with how Boston does victory parades, the members of the championship team and their families take a victory lap through downtown Boston on the duck boats. These amphibious vehicles can usually be seen transporting tourists around town, but they are perfect for this type of occasion.

The minutemen and their muskets led the parade, followed by the drumline and the cheerleaders. Next was owner Robert Kraft, who can be seen hoisting the Lombardi trophy in the photo at the top of the post.

One of the biggest cheers went to the coaching duck boat, where I captured an elusive Bill Belichick smile in one of my photos.

Bill Belichick Matt Patricia Super Bowl Parade Patriots

Players were separated by position group and signs clearly labeled who was on each vehicle. Most players were on duck boats, but there were a few trucks added to the mix. The media also got its own truck, and the staff were interspersed on vehicles throughout the parade as well.

Obviously all the spectators were capturing the parade on their phones, but many of the players were doing the same. I loved watching what the players saw by checking out their Instagram and Twitter posts after the parade. It’s crazy to think about how social media has changed the way we all partake in these types of events.

Big cheers, including “M.V.P.” chants, greeted cornerback Malcolm Butler, who saluted the crowd in response. Even after all the media attention he got after his game-changing interception, Butler still seemed genuinely awestruck by and appreciative of all the love from the fans. Made me like the kid even more.

Vince Wilfork Malcolm Butler Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Jonas Gray Super Bowl Parade Patriots

It’s a tough call, but if I could have been on any parade vehicle, it would have been the running back one. Sure, WR Julian Edelman was the life of the party on his boat and Gronk was being Gronk on his, but the RBs had the best dance moves. You can’t beat that running back swag. The group makes an appearance in my video below around the 2-minute mark.

(One could also make a strong argument for the quarterback boat. I mean, Brady and Garoppolo – need I say more, ladies? I won’t blame you if you stop the video at the 1:12 mark.)

In the video, you can also hear how good the music was during the parade. There were about three trucks throughout the parade procession that had speaker systems on them and whoever created the playlist did an excellent job. Confetti cannons also added to the ambiance.

Stephen Gostkowski Ryan Allen Danny Aiken Super Bowl Parade Patriots

As a big fan of pom-poms, can I also say how much I loved seeing the players and coaches embrace this trend with their choice of hats? Such a good look.

Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but they definitely didn’t capture the whole experience, which is why you’re getting the first-ever Snap video. The high-pitched screaming isn’t me (shocking, I know), but I am to blame for the shaky camera. My bad.

Ahhh, such good memories. Let’s do it again sometime.

-Michelle

Snap Roadtrip: Patriots Super Bowl Send-Off

Do you believe in fate? I do.

When I saw that I had a work meeting scheduled 100 feet away from where the Pats were having their Super Bowl send-off rally, I knew it was a sign that I needed to make an appearance.

I’m like a moth to a flame when it comes to these kinds of events. Moth to a freakin’ flame.

Patriots Super Bowl Send-Off 2015

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hosted a 45-minute send-off celebration featuring team owner Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, and the five Pats captains – Tom Brady, Matt Slater, Dan Connolly, Devin McCourtey, and Vince Wilfork. Former Pats tight end and Boston native Jermaine Wiggins also pumped up the crowd with a pep talk. The Patriots cheerleaders and drumline (apparently the Pats have one of those) also made an appearance.

My favorite part was probably hearing Coach Belichick speak. He got quite the cheer from the crowd and you kind of got the feeling that everyone standing in that plaza wanted him to momentarily forget about the hell that has been DeflateGate.

You can see video from the event here. I couldn’t find myself in the crowd, but you are more than welcome to play Where’s Waldo and look for me. (Hint: I probably look freezing cold even though I’m rocking a parka and numerous cold-weather accessories.)

Since it’s not really a New England event without an appearance by Dunkin’ Donuts, the coffee and donut chain was on-hand to provide free dark roast coffee and s’mores hot chocolate. Holy hot beverage – the s’mores hot chocolate was soooo good (they didn’t pay me to say that, it was just that yummy) and much needed with the single-digit wind chill bystanders were experiencing congregating in Government Center plaza.

Yeah, it was pretty cold out there, which is why it was awesome when I got a free Julian Edelman beanie from the Dunkin crew as well. The surprisingly high-quality hat has quickly become one of my favorites and I will be wearing it tomorrow as I finish digging out my car from 2+ feet of snow, thank you very much.

(Side note: All of my mid-Atlantic friends complaining about not getting any snow are more than welcome to come take some of ours. I could build life-size snowmen replicas of the entire Patriots defense using the snow in my front yard.)

So yeah, that’s how I spent my lunch break on Monday. Now that I finally have feeling back in my extremities, I would definitely say it was worth it.

– Michelle