What do dairy farmers, NFL stars, and the Secretary of Agriculture have in common? They all braved the winter weather and traveled to the site of Super Bowl XLV to support the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program. FUTP60 conducted a kids’ football clinic at the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park at the Dallas Convention Center. The clinic, aimed at kids, focused on the fundamentals to improve nutrition and physical activity in their schools and personal lives.
Kids from the local school district and beyond arrived at the converted Astroturf playing field, anxious to get moving. The buzz in the air wasn’t from the Katy Perry song reverberating throughout the arena; it was the excitement of kids anxiously awaiting the chance to run on the field to learn from the pros – Cowboy’s linebacker DeMarcus Ware and Colts’ wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
After encouraging the kids to eat healthy and stay active, Secretary Vilsack introduced them to the dairy farmers on hand, who are working hard to provide kids across the nation with the dairy products that are so critical to a nutritious diet. While two major dairy states were represented in the Super Bowl, I have to say that it looked like more of the farmers on hand were backing the Steelers, rather than the Green Bay Cheeseheads.
As the players took to the field the kids were all high-fives and cheers. The impact and influence of high profile players and role models, committed to living a healthy and active life, cannot be overstated. You could see it clearly in the wide-eyed stares and smiles of every child as they clung to every word from the NFL pros.
As the players and kids ran through ladder and reception drills the excitement was overwhelming – we were all ready to suit up for the big game. Not wanting to get hit by an overthrown pass from DeMarcus, I headed to the sideline where parents stood with cameras in hand and was caught up in a conversation between Secretary Vilsack and a Steelers fan. The Steelers fan pointed out his son and said that he couldn’t be happier to see him out there active, healthy, and having a great time.
Two years ago the father promised his son they could go see the Steelers play in the 2008 Super Bowl, but when the big day came, his son was in the hospital receiving a bone marrow transplant. Fast-forward two years and this father kept his promise to take his son to a Steelers Super Bowl. Not only did they get to go, he watched on as his son joined NFL greats running, laughing and playing in perfect health.
While the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal for any aspiring football player, the Fuel Up to Play 60 events were a dream come true for the kids, as well. The energy in the convention center was contagious and everyone thought of how to bring this excitement to communities across the country. Suffice it to say that FUTP60 has some big goals and some big names on board to reach those goals.