Smiling and engaging Bills players ran down the aisles of the Kleinhans Music Hall Tuesday in front of an excited, thunderous and high energy crowd of about 2,500 kids to kickoff the 7th Annual Play 60 Challenge in Buffalo.
The players jumped on stage amidst all the screaming and high-fives and then shared their healthy tips and favorite snack messages with the area elementary students. Students also teamed up with Bills players on the big stage to participate in a fun quiz show about healthy eating and exercise.
In between amazing ovations, the players shared their messages as part of the Bills Play 60 Challenge partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and the American Heart Association.
Bills players included running back Fred Jackson, linebacker Arthur Moats, offensive lineman Mike Jasper, safety Jairus Byrd, defensive end Alex Carrington, safety Bryan Scott, safety George Wilson, tight end Scott Chandler, linebacker Danny Batten, quarterback/wide receiver/special teamer Brad Smith, wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt, tight end Mike Caussin, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and long snapper Garrison Sanborn.
The players engaged the students and seemed to be having as much fun with the kids as the kids were having with them.
Jackson got the kids pumped up by leading a student chant of, "Freddy, Freddy."
Chandler may have gotten the most laughs from his teammates and loudest cheers from the students by encouraging the kids to chant, "Let's go Buffalo." He also challenged the kids to cheer as loud as the fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium did against the Patriots on Sunday.
Wilson read all the school names that attended, and had them each cheer individually to see who was the loudest school...it was a tie, they were all deafening.
Player's healthy food recommendations were pineapples (Moats), drink lots of water (Jasper), apples (Sanborn and Byrd), grapes (Dareus), bananas with peanut butter (Caussin), oranges (Chandler), peanut butter crackers (Scott), a bowl of any fruit (Jackson), yogurt and granola (Carrington), any fruits and vegetables (Roosevelt), strawberries (Smith), oatmeal (Batten), and cereal any time of day or night (Wilson).
The pep rally style of event got the kids excited about the undefeated, first-place Bills, but also about physical fitness and healthy living. The Bills players each shared additional healthy tips such as biking, walking the dog, playing outside, getting eight hours of sleep, and dancing.
Students had a blast and the players had a great time too with the students, and their concern for the kids in the community was evident.
"We are here because we care about you, your health and your future," said Smith.
Wilson added, "Play 60 minutes every day, take care of yourself, stay healthy, and thank you to my teammates, the Bills, BlueCross BlueShield and the American Heart Association for sharing your healthy messages."
And for the record, the Bills and students that won Quiz Show Dennis' healthy challenge were from the "Yellow" team.
The "Green" team of Chandler, Jasper, Sanborn, Moats, Dareus, Caussin and Scott answered the final question correctly to beat the "Yellow" team. The "Yellow" team consisting of Jackson, Byrd, Wilson, Carrington, Smith, Batten and Roosevelt lost the close battle on the final question, "What vegetable makes your eyes cry?" The Green team buzzed first and when they answered, "onions," the entire place went nuts...again!
For more information on the Play 60 program, please visit www.nflrush.com.