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According to a recent press release from the New England Patriots Foundation, a local doctor has been honored by the Kraft Family with the Myra Kraft Community MVP Award.

Dr. Michael Rocha of Dartmouth was one of 26 New Englanders recognized on Friday, October 30. “As part of the New England Patriots Foundation’s ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, the Kraft family traditionally hosts a special ceremony at Gillette Stadium to celebrate the honorees.” Due to the pandemic, the celebration was moved to a virtual platform. “Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Foundation President Joshua Kraft, and Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett all participated in the virtual ceremony.”

“This year has been incredibly challenging for so many families, but it has also been difficult for nonprofits,” said Robert Kraft. “They have been called upon to support more families than ever before, but have been unable to host their traditional fundraising events. Volunteers are the lifeblood of these charitable organizations and they have stepped up in a big way during this unprecedented time. We were honored to be able to meet 26 of these local heroes – albeit virtually – and to be able to shine a spotlight on their volunteer efforts.”

In honor of Dr. Rocha’s dedication to volunteering, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation will make a $10,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford.

Seven years ago, Dr. Rocha created a wellness initiative for the city of New Bedford and partnered it with the local Boys and Girls Club. The initiative provides free weekly health classes, designed to help combat the opioid crisis. The program offers more holistic approaches to pain, including aerobics, nutrition, and yoga.

“Growing up, the city not only gifted me with an excellent public-school education, it also taught me what it means to be part of a community,” said Dr. Rocha. “I learned how to play basketball at the Boys and Girls Club, how to play trombone in the Portuguese-American band, and most importantly, how to support my neighbors in good times and bad, making lifelong friends along the way.”

As a cardiologist, he also recruited several physicians to participate in a weekly Walk with a Doc program, helping to engage in conversations with local residents. He also remains active on the nonprofit’s board of directors.

“It is an honor to accept this award on behalf of all the committed people I work alongside in New Bedford, my hometown,” said Dr. Rocha. “This community has always shown me love and I simply want to love it back. More than anything, my service to New Bedford is about gratitude.”