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Patriot Maroney is 12-year-old’s new school pal

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 15, 2009

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DUXBURY - A special guest joined 12-year-old Tyler Hutchinson at Duxbury Middle School on Tuesday morning. Tyler woke up and began his usual routine for school. But the difference on this day was that New England Patriots running back Laurence Maroney would be accompanying Tyler to school.

Tyler won the NFL’s “Take a Player to School’’ sweepstakes and got to spend time with Maroney, who was promoting the NFL’s Play 60 campaign to encourage children to get an hour of exercise a day.

Tyler and Maroney arrived at the school in a limousine and were greeted by cheering students. The school gym was decorated in posters welcoming Maroney, who is in his fourth season with the Patriots. Maroney answered questions from the students during an assembly and then led a few of Tyler’s classmates in various games and activities. They jumped rope, ran sprints, and swayed with hula hoops.

“It was fun to come out here and play with the kids and be around them,’’ Maroney said. “It made me go back to my middle school days. It’s just all about having fun.’’

Tyler, a lineman for a local football team, said he was nervous throughout the morning, especially when he had to introduce Maroney to his classmates at an assembly.

“He’s an amazing person, great athlete, and just fun to be around,’’ Tyler said.

Maroney’s presence generated excitement throughout the school of 802 students. The NFL holds the contest in all 32 of its cities and this year had more than 75,000 entries across the country. Tyler’s mom, Lee Hutchinson, said she entered her son in the sweepstakes during the summer after hearing an advertisement on the radio. Then in October, she got the call that he won.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,’’ she said. “You could win a trip around the world, but if you had enough money, you could buy a trip around the world. You can’t buy an opportunity like this.’’

Lee and her husband, Scott, brought along their other two children Garrett, 10, and Gabrielle, 6, who also had the chance to interact with Maroney. Not only did the school have Maroney for a couple of hours, it was also presented with a $2,000 donation.

“In these very lean budget times, this is a real gift,’’ said Duxbury Middle School principal Blake Dalton.

The students couldn’t get enough of Maroney. As he left the school, students across the street rushed to the fence to get a glimpse. He walked over and was mobbed with hugs by the children, some wearing Patriots’ jerseys. Later members of the Duxbury High football team happened to cross paths with Maroney on their way to the high school. Maroney talked to the players and signed autographs before leaving.

Maroney said the experience was not only fun for him, but also for Tyler.

“Tyler’s a great guy, he deserves to have something like this,’’ Maroney said.

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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