By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

FOXBORO (CBS) – It was six years in the making, but the first artificial turf playing field in Foxboro is now a reality. And thanks to the work of high school students there, the field bares the name of a young man who died earlier this year.

Foxboro High School junior Sam Berns suffered from progeria, a rare and rapid aging disorder.

Sam Berns with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. (Photo from New England Patriots)

Sam Berns with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. (Photo from New England Patriots)

When he died at the age of 17, his classmates came up with the idea to name the new field at the high school in his honor, citing his love of sports.

“It’s a way to remember our friend who’s impacted our lives so much and impacted our community so much,” says Berns’ friend Varun Nambikrishnan.

“As I say, every day is a good today to remember Sam and what he stood for,” explains superintendent of schools Debra Spinelli. “But today is really special, because this really ensures that a child who grew up here and was cherished here, will be cherished forever in the future.”

The field cost close to $1.5 million and was paid for through a mixture of tax dollars and private donations. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft helped secure a $200,000 donation from the NFL after he met Berns last fall. Kraft says he “fell in love” with the young man immediately.

“If you didn’t know him you might feel sorry for him,” Kraft explains. “But when you met him you saw how special he was. He gave off a sense of confidence and inspiration.”

Gus Herlihy, also a member of Sam’s high school class, says his friend might have been taken aback by all this attention. “He was very modest and he never was a big fan of media attention,” according to Herlihy. “But I’m sure he would definitely see it as a great honor; he’d realize we were doing this because we love him.”



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