Albany native and former Monroe star Deion Branch talks to a group of kids during last year’s annual Skills and Drills camp at Albany State. The former New England Patriots’ Super Bowl hero will be holding the 8th annual camp today in Albany.

Albany native and former Monroe star Deion Branch talks to a group of kids during last year’s annual Skills and Drills camp at Albany State. The former New England Patriots’ Super Bowl hero will be holding the 8th annual camp today in Albany.

Want To Go?

WHO: Albany native, Monroe grad and Super Bowl hero. Deion Branch, along with several professional football players.

WHAT: 8th annual Deion Branch Skills and Drills Camp.

WHEN: 9 a.m. today.

WHERE: Albany State University.

COST: $25 per child; includes instruction by Branch and Co., as well as a T-shirt, autographed picture, athletic bad and lunch.

MORE INFO: deionbranchfoundation.org.

ALBANY — Albany native and former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch will be in Albany today hosting his 8th annual Skills and Drills football camp, and the former New England Patriots receiver will hold the youth camp at Albany State University for the third year in a row.

Branch, a former Monroe star who was named the MVP of the 2005 Super Bowl he won with New England, is returning to Albany as a free agent after not being re-signed by New England this offseason, although Branch has said publicly in recent weeks he’s confident he’ll be offered a roster spot before the 2013 season begins.

Branch’s future, however, won’t be on his mind during the event. Today is all about the kids and helping bring awareness to combating a disease that affects his family: viral meningitis.

“I am very fortunate to be in a position to do this. People tend to look at pro athletes as heroes, but to me the heroes are the doctors and their research teams who are working to prevent this terrible disease,” Branch says on his website, deionbranchfoundation.org.

Branch will once again use the camp to benefit the Deion Branch Foundation, which was founded by Branch and established to help children struggling with health-related issues, including those with meningitis.

The foundation is close to Branch’s heart because his son, Deiondre, was diagnosed with viral meningitis at an early age.

Branch will be joined by former NFL players and coaches at the camp, which is for children ages 7 to 18 and costs $25. It begins at 9 a.m. today and ends at noon.

He also made appearances in Albany on Friday, starting with a speaking engagement at HPER Gymnasium on the ASU campus. Branch then headed to Papa John’s on Westover Road to meet fans and sign autographs.

After last year’s camp, Branch told The Herald how important it is to him to give back to his hometown each summer.

“As long as I am moving around, I will be here doing this,” Branch said. “I feel like it’s my job to put a stamp on these kids and get out here and do these things for the kids. That’s what it’s all about. Hopefully, one day, these kids will be here in my shoes doing this for other kids.”

Antonio Leroy, ASU’s all-time leading rusher, has aided Branch with organizing and running the camp in each of its eight years and said the event is a testament to Branch’s generosity.

“When you have a local superstar who gives back to his hometown, how much better does it get than that?” said Leroy, who added that all campers will receive T-shirts, an autographed picture, an athletic bag and lunch. “With a superstar like Deion Branch, I even get excited to be a part of it.”

Additionally, Branch will be on hand supporting the 4th annual Deion Branch Cheerleading Camp, which is run by members of the Albany State cheerleading squad. The cost for that is also $25.

For more information on the camps or to register, visit www.deionbranchfoundation.org.