SALIDA, CA - After his win against the Miami Dolphins last month, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received a new friendship bracelet made by the kids at Camp Taylor.
Camp founder Kimberlie Gamino delivered the present, but what she and the campers didn't know, was that Kaepernick always carries the first bracelet they made for him. He keeps it in the same official NFL gym bag he takes to every game and every 49er locker room.
"See? I always have it with me," Kaepernick said pulling out the blue and green bracelet. The whole exchange was caught on cell phone video.
Kaepernick wanted to support a local charity immediately after he was drafted into the NFL. He chose Camp Taylor/Kids Heart Camp in Salida, which offers free, medically supervised summer camps for kids with heart disease.
"He lost two older brothers to heart disease," said Gamino, who received a call from Kaepernick's mother about her son's interest. "So he wanted to find a charity to give back to honor his parents and his family."
Kaepernick was only scheduled for three hours at his first camp, but stayed seven. He played in the pool, joined discussions on heart health and even sang with his parents in front of the entire camp.
"When Colin comes out to camp, he doesn't come with an entourage of people," Gamino said. "He drove himself in his college car."
Gamino said Kaepernick checks in regularly and has even been texting staff members while he's in New Orleans. He recently surprised the camp with a new fundraiser.
"He's the one who started the Kaepernicking T-shirts," Gamino said. "We are the home for Kaepernicking for a Cause. He tied those t-shirts right into us and we receive proceeds from every t-shirt sold."
Camp Taylor already sold out twice this month. The camp is preparing for a sold-out Saturday fundraiser at the Double Tree in Modesto, auctioning off Kaepernick autographed apparel.
Camp kids will all be together, watching their favorite football player and friend play in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Kaepernick is scheduled to participate in a June golf tournament and more summer camps for Camp Taylor.