Mesko set to host 'ZoliOke' fundraiser

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
6:00
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Ever wondered how hilarious it would be to watch Patriots players singing Justin Bieber?

Fans might get their chance to see just that in a few weeks, when Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko hosts his inaugural 'ZoliOke' event on Saturday, June 9 at Royale in Boston.

Emceed by WAAF's Greg Hill, the event's proceeds will go to support Boston Children's Hospital, a cause that Mesko says became important to him while volunteering at a hospital while in college at Michigan.

"I remember getting to Michigan my freshman year, and I needed some things to put on my application to get into the business school," Mesko told ESPNBoston.com in a recent interview. "I went and volunteered every Thursday night, and after a while I realized that this was not supposed to be a résumé builder after all, because I had fallen in love with putting smiles on kids' faces."

Mesko's hospital visits at Michigan became routine over his five years in school. Eventually, he would be joined by about 60 student-athletes on his Thursday night trips.

"I feel like there's a social responsibility there for us as athletes to bring smiles to peoples' faces and to do good in the community. Especially kids. When you see a five-year old hooked up to so many IVs and going through cancer treatment and all that, it just breaks your heart," Mesko said. "When you alleviate their struggle, even for a couple of hours in a day, your problems just melt away. It's something that I'm really passionate about, and I'm really glad that I took the initiative to continue the way I benefit this cause."

Like at Michigan, Mesko will have help from his teammates. He said that quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Wes Welker, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski are among those who have committed, and that several other players, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, have expressed interest in attending.

"Wes Welker said 'yes' within a second of me asking," Mesko said. "I didn't even need to tell him the details. He said 'I'll be there.'"

Former Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo hosted a similar event, Larryoke, during his time in New England, to benefit veterans' families. Mesko said he reached out to Izzo for advice, and was told that players always had fun on stage, good or bad singers alike.

Mesko said that one of the reasons that he chose to plan this event was because he enjoys singing. But what tunes can we expect from someone who the Wall Street Journal once dubbed the "NFL's Most Interesting Man"?

"I like to make a fool of myself regardless. My philosophy is whether you're laughing with me or at me, I want you to laugh and have a good time," Mesko said. "I don't mind singing anything from Justin Bieber to N'Sync, it doesn't matter. It's going to be a good time, no matter what, for all guys. Some of the guys are more conservative on that part, but I don't mind belting out a few songs that I do in the shower as well."

A live auction will be held at the event, with one prize being a chance to sing on-stage with the Patriots.

Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, while additional donations to Boston Children's Hospital can be made here.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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