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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs are betting on the future of Kansas City. Thousands of kids in the metro have a special connection with the team.

Beneath the touchdown glory and Super Bowl swagger, many of the Chiefs have a soft heart for the city’s youth.

“The Hunt family and the Chiefs, what an anchor for us,” Operation Breakthrough CEO Mary Esselman said.

Operation Breakthrough in KCMO has been around for nearly 50 years. They help provide an enriching after-school experience and support for more than 700 kids.

“When you look at the fact that they don’t just see financial support, they actually see the players, the players are actually here interacting,” Esselman said. “So think about what that role model provides when you work hard and play hard. What a great message to send to our kids and families.”

Patrick Mahomes’ 15 and the Mahomies Foundation recently sponsored a grant for after-school scholarships to the program.

Travis Kelce sponsors their robotics program and spends time regularly with the kids. This holiday season, Tyrann Mathieu hosted 10 families for a dinner and gifts with a meet and greet.

Team Smile works with punter Dustin Colquitt, Kelce, Harrison Butker, James Winchester and countless other players. Executive Director John McCarthy said Team Smile has been working with the Chiefs organization more than 10 years.

This year the nonprofit plans to provide free dental care to thousands of children in a number of different states.

“We use the power of sports to create that connection and give this special experience for the children,” McCarthy said. “So it takes the fear out of dentistry. It makes it cool, it makes it fun, and we give a kids the experience that they may never have otherwise to bring them out to some of the great stadiums throughout the country.”

McCarthy said on Super Bowl Sunday, these kids will not only get to see the Chiefs play, but see people who truly made a difference in their lives for the better.

“It’s a tremendous impact that they have, and sometimes they might not even realize it. They may be out there to take the pictures and love on the kids, but really their influence goes well beyond that day,” McCarthy said.