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/ Source: TODAY
By Erin Clements

Chris Pratt reprises his role as raptor trainer Owen Grady in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” — and the leading man’s fans know he’s a hero in real life, too.

Before the much-anticipated sequel stomps into theaters, Pratt staged a very special surprise for some young viewers.

The guests of honor, 245 kids and chaperones from The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, showed up at New York City's Empire Theatre for an early viewing of the summer blockbuster Thursday evening, hosted by TODAY and Universal Pictures. What they didn’t know was that the 38-year-old actor would make an appearance.

Chris Pratt is about to surprise an audience full of young fans.
Chris Pratt is about to surprise an audience full of young fans.TODAY

Before the screening started, a handful of young actors were challenged to give their fiercest “scared by a dinosaur” impressions. To the kids’ delight, the final "contestant" was none other than Pratt himself!

Pratt stepped onstage and offered the kids some words of advice: "If you stick to who you are, one day you can grow up and life can get really, really good for you. So just stay true to yourself."

“I feel so incredibly lucky in my life,” Pratt told TODAY after the surprise, explaining why spending time with young fans is important to him.

Kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America got a special surprise when Chris Pratt himself appeared.
Kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America got a special surprise when Chris Pratt himself appeared.TODAY

"I feel as though I've been given an opportunity and a platform," he continued. "I'm a person of faith; I believe there's a reason I've been given this opportunity. I think that the only way for me to pay off the debt that I would incur by getting such an amazing life is to just reach out to kids and to be there for them and accept this responsibility as a mentor and someone who'll usher in a new generation of kids who'll be kindhearted and open-minded, thoughtful, caring and proud of who they are."

Chris Pratt joined some of the excited kids onstage.
Chris Pratt joined some of the excited kids onstage.TODAY

The kids in attendance were from four New York-area clubhouses of The Boys and Girls Club of America: Educational Alliance, Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, Madison Square Boys & Girls Club and Harlem Boys & Girls Club. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which is more than 150 years old and serves nearly 4 million young people nationwide through more than 4,300 chapters, aims to give kids a safe place with mentors and enriching programs.

Pratt has a connection to the group: The actor raised money to fund a teen rec center for the local Boys and Girls Club in his hometown of Lake Stevens, Washington — a new facility that opened last fall.

Chris Pratt told TODAY that the "Jurassic" movies have such a devoted young fan base because they "merge science and imagination."
Chris Pratt told TODAY that the "Jurassic" movies have such a devoted young fan base because they "merge science and imagination."Universal

In fact, Pratt spent a lot of time at his local Boys and Girls Club as a kid.

"I think it's important because it's a safe place for youth to hang out, spend time with one another," he said. "It's hard raising kids and it's hard to be present all the time. It really takes a village. So I think the Boys and Girls Clubs act as that village sometimes and can watch our kids when parents are off at work. It's just an extra set of eyes and ears you can trust for your kids to be around."

“Jurassic World” hits theaters on June 22. Universal Pictures is owned by NBC News’ parent company, NBCUniversal.