Vince Wilfork keeps healthy focus

Thanks to pictures he’s posted on his Twitter account, we’ve seen Vince Wilfork [stats] doing rope exercises to help keep in shape as NFL players remain in lockout limbo.

So what else has the Patriots [team stats] Pro Bowl nose tackle been up to as the owners and players take a break from court-ordered mediation?

Well, after exchanging several e-mails with the big man last week, we got a pretty good idea. For starters, he’s busy preparing for his annual draft day fund-raising party. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Along with doing his daily workout regimen, he’s been tending to his garden at his offseason home in Florida. That’s right. Big Vince has gone greens. He’s out in his yard, inspecting the plants, making sure they’re healthy and warding off pests that may kill his produce.

“Right now, I have collard greens, corn and green beans,” Wilfork wrote. “I usually do tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, lettuce and whatever else I want to try.”

Wilfork indicated he’s always wanted a garden to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, and a few years back, a good friend of his, Wayne Carboni, who owns a landscaping company in Franklin, helped him get one started at his Franklin home.

This year, because of the lockout, Wilfork has been in Florida since the Pro Bowl in Hawaii in January, so he started a garden at that home, as well, so he could maintain his green thumb.

“(Because of the lockout) I’ve had a great chance to actually put my garden in, and be here long enough to watch it grow,” Wilfork said. “Usually, I plant everything in the middle of June and then I am back in New England so fast I don’t get to see it, so this is good.”

Wilfork, a true renaissance man, has also been working on perfecting his homemade barbecue sauce and dry rub. That’s in between workout session so he’ll be in shape whenever the lockout ends. He works out twice a day, once in the morning, and again in the afternoon when his 13-year-old son D’Aundre gets home from school.

“I haven’t gotten together with my line guys yet,” Wilfork wrote, referring to his teammates on the defensive line. “Maybe after the Kentucky Derby (May 7). But I keep in constant contact with them.”

Of course, Wilfork and his wife Bianca have everything in place for their fund-raiser on Thursday at Pinz Entertainment in Milford.

The cause remains diabetes research and finding a cure. Wilfork lost his father to the disease and remains staunch in his efforts to support the cause. After years of hosting the party on Saturdays, the previously traditional opening day of the draft, having the marquee first round moved to Thursday night, and the starting time pushed back an hour this year hasn’t helped attendance. But the Wilforks have persevered.

“Thursday made the event a little tough, but it still turns out great (last year),” Wilfork wrote. “This year, we are keeping our fingers crossed with it being Thursday, the NFL pushing the start time back a little later, moving it up a week because of the holiday weekend, so now we have a work week, instead of April vacation, not to mention the whole lockout. So we have a ton of obstacles this year, but diabetes doesn’t pause or stop because of those things. So we can’t either.

“The only thing that stops is people breathing, as diabetes takes their life from them like it did my dad. So we keep pushing on, trying to find a cure. I try to stress on these social media outlets, it doesn’t take much. Twenty-something followers on Twitter, if everyone donates one dollar, that’s amazing.”

Already, four days before the event, Wilfork indicated there’s been some sizeable contributions, and he’s extremely grateful.

“I have once again been overwhelmed by the outpouring of donations that I get for my fund-raiser,” Wilfork wrote. “(Saints linebacker) John Vilma just sent in a large donation. (Former Patriots teammate) Jarvis Green, and my agent Kennard McGuire have all made significant donations. And Mr. (Robert) Kraft and the Patriots have always supported my foundation and event, even though they have their own event the same day.

“But it’s the everyday people, the ones who live paycheck to paycheck that touch me the most, whether it’s one dollar, 10 dollars or 100 dollars. I know they made a choice and a sacrifice to send that money in and believe me, the ones who can not contribute financially, they spread the word, they send their well wishes, and they share their own heartbreaking stories of how diabetes affected them.”

Who does Wilfork like in the draft from his alma mater, Miami? Any prospective Patriots [team stats] in the mix?

“(Allen) Bailey and (Leonard) Hankerson are my top picks out of THE U!!” he wrote, referring to the Miami defensive lineman and wide receiver, both of whom had pre-draft contact with the Pats.

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

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