FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As the timeless saying goes, “it’s better to give than to receive,” and this is a motto that the New England Revolution embrace wholeheartedly, all year long.
However, there was a particular individual whose dedication on and off the field stood out this season, and that’s right back Andrew Farrell, who was honored as the Revolution 2018 Humanitarian of the Year. This is the 26-year-old’s first time claiming this prestigious award, breaking another deeply charitable Revs contributor, Kelyn Rowe’s, four-year streak with the honor.
“I freaked out,” Farrell admitted when asked how he’d reacted when he was told he’d been selected. “I was pretty excited. It’s probably one of the coolest awards I’ve gotten because soccer accolades are always awesome, but being given an award for just being yourself and being able to help somebody else and make somebody else’s day better – it just makes you feel really good inside.”
Being himself is exactly what separates Farrell in this category. He does his charitable work quietly, without seeking recognition for doing good deeds. While he is heavily involved in all areas of community outreach, Farrell in particular has spent years forging relationships with Special Olympics Massachusetts and Binkeez For Comfort, to name just a few.
“He likes to deflect and do things behind the scenes, so for him to get thrust into the spotlight in this fashion is really nice,” said Matt Turner, who has worked alongside Farrell in several of his charitable endeavors. “He really cares about it and all the work he does with Special Olympics is truly awesome, so I’m happy for him.”
The New England Revolution began partnering with Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) approximately four years ago, and Farrell has been heavily involved with the Revs’ SOMA Unified team. From helping the athletes sharpen their skills at clinics to raising money for SOMA throughout the season, Farrell has developed unique bonds with the Special Olympians and is a constant presence in their lives.
Through it all, he’s earned their admiration, but the bonds formed run much deeper.
"I think that's a credit to Andrew,” said Special Olympics Massachusetts President and CEO Mary Beth McMahon. “He really has adopted this team, and he's really adopted Special Olympics ... We have a saying that they start as teammates and end up friends, and I think that's really what you see with this relationship, is that really, truly it’s a partnership, but most importantly, a friendship."
Farrell not only works with the Revs to make a difference, but also chooses to do so in his personal time.
At last season’s Box Car Movie Night with Binkeez For Comfort, Farrell met two very special girls named Abigail (11 years old) and Madeline (nine years old) Waldron. Abigail was a pediatric cancer patient, and Farrell formed a bond with her and her entire family as he was helping to design their own personalized car out of a cardboard box. Following that night, he maintained a connection with the family, inviting them to Revs games and even to see him warm up on the field prior to matches. However, he didn’t stop there. Upon invitation, Farrell has also attended Abigail’s dance recitals, and even spent time with the family in their home.
Farrell has made a lasting, positive impact on the Waldrons, and in turn, they have also had the same impact on him.
“Being able to connect with them and them opening up their hearts and their home to me was awesome,” Farrell said with a smile. “We created a bond that’s probably going to last our whole lives, so that’s a cool thing to be a part of and I’m grateful for that.”
These real, authentic relationships with people, charities and whomever he encounters characterize Farrell, both off the field in the community and on the field with his teammates. Farrell wore the captain’s armband for the second half of the 2018 season, and it’s clear that his leadership qualities are seen no matter what the setting.
“Andrew has always been someone that leads by example,” said Scott Caldwell. “The effort that he puts into everything that he does and the focus that he has – so to be able to be recognized for something so great and working in the community, finally people are seeing it and not just us in the locker room, and that’s great.”
Teammates and those in the community are not the only ones seeing the high-grade attributes of Farrell.
“I think he personifies what (being) a New England Revolution player is all about both on and off the field,” said head coach Brad Friedel. “I think anybody that you talk to would say that he’s a good guy, a quality human being, a good player – there’s just a lot of positives about Andrew.”
With Farrell’s option picked up for the 2019 season, the Revs are confident that he will continue to make a difference with all of those around him. Whether it is on the pitch, in the locker room or within the community, he will continue to create a positive impact.