Vince Wilfork’s mission to raise awareness in the fight against diabetes led to a New Hampshire middle school yesterday.

The Patriots defensive tackle teamed up with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and several medical experts at Hood Middle School, and preached the importance of living healthy, active lives now to lower the chances of developing diabetes later.

A handful of diabetic children in the crowd were there, including twin boys in the eighth grade who were curious about the disease’s effects in adulthood. Wilfork, standing in the middle of a packed gymnasium, told them to appreciate everything in the present and follow proper medical orders to live the fullest lives possible.

“It had nothing to do with football,” Wilfork said. “It was all about being a human being, how we can help our younger generation move forward. I think with today’s message, we did a good job of that. These guys asked us some great questions. We had a good time today. It definitely was a good outing.”

Wilfork saw firsthand how devastating the illness can be. His father suffered from diabetes for years before losing the battle in 2002, and he recalled instances as an adolescent when he had to take care of his father while friends played outside. Wilfork now has made it his lifelong mission to fight the disease.

Shaheen’s granddaughter, who attended yesterday’s event, also has diabetes and recently got a guide dog that can actually help by sensing when her blood sugar levels aren’t right.

“Anything I can do with this whole diabetes thing is something near and dear to my heart, also to the senator’s,” Wilfork said. “Anything I can do to help, I’m always on board for it. Today was one of those days that had nothing to do with nothing but being a human being and helping one another. That’s what we did today. Hopefully these kids listened to what we had to say, take our advice. They have a bunch of support around them, and we just hope that they use it. If they do, we’ll definitely have a better place.

“We’re going to fight like crazy to make sure that we can get something for this disease, because it’s bad. It is a bad disease, but we’re going to continue to work on it. We never know what happens in the future, but the only thing we can do is keep pushing, keep plugging and trying to get a cure.”

Wilfork will host his 10th Draft Night Fundraiser on April 25 at Pinz in Milford, and it will again support the Joslin Diabetes Center and Diabetes Research Institute.