The New England Patriots donated $25,000 to the town. Patriots owner Robert Kraft's family also owns a corrugated box plant in Newtown.
"What we are trying to ensure is this doesn't end in a couple of weeks," D'Amico said. "The Yankees, Mets and Red Sox might be doing something this summer with the Little League. The Patriots are talking about something next football season."
Nathan Grube, the director of the PGA Tour's Connecticut stop, the Travelers Championship, said they are keeping that message in mind and are making plans to do something during the tournament in June. Officials at Madison Square Garden say they are planning something big that will be announced in the near future.
Hamm, the retired soccer star, said nobody in the sports world is under an illusion that they can make all the pain and suffering go away. But athletes remember what it was like to be a young child and have a sports hero, she said. If they can show the kids that their heroes care about them, well, that might just be a little something.
"If you're a kid, you shouldn't have to be thinking about these things," Lalas said. "You should be having fun. You should be kicking me in the shins and trying to put the ball through my legs and making fun of my hair. Making them smile, that's what this is all about."
Dr. Marian Moca, a child psychiatrist at the UConn Health Center, said what the athletes are doing is important, and creates a sense of caring, support and safety the kids need at this time.
"They also play an important role as role models for these kids," he said, "and are teaching them empathy and altruism, which I think is important too."
UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie said it's not just the kids who benefit.
"They are inspiring us in the way they are overcoming this," he said. "It's been a blessing and a privilege for me. It's a life lesson for us too."
AP sports writers Nancy Armour, Tom Canavan and Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.
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