Three-hundred 3rd – 6th grade students (Buffalo Public Schools and Cattaraugus Little Valley Central) celebrated their success in the Buffalo Bills Play 60 Challenge with Bills players in a special fun and interactive fitness event at the Bills Field House on December 8th. Though the kids had a blast, the players seemed to have just as much fun.
The event included appearances by wide receiver Lee Evans, safety George Wilson, linebacker Chris Draft, long-snapper Garrison Sanborn, linebacker Jon Corto, defensive end Aaron Maybin, safety John Wendling and team mascot Billy Buffalo.
The Bills players spoke to the kids and encouraged them to stay hydrated, drink lots of water, reduce playing video games, play outside with friends, play fun sports, stretch, eat healthy, be positive and to choose good friends.
Linebacker Chris Draft took a special interest in getting the children pumped up before the event and created a pep-rally atmosphere by yelling, "Are you ready? I can't hear you! Are you excited? Will you play 60?" The students were thrilled.
Kids participated in various fitness stations throughout the Field House where Bills players and volunteers, from sponsors BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and the American Heart Association, ran the stations while energetic music played. Stations included football pass catching, running between cones, backpedaling drills, jumping drills, relay races, a dice game where the roll of the dice told what exercise to perform and how many repetitions to do, and more.
Wilson said, "I tell the kids to go in with an open mind, try to learn as much as they can about living a healthy lifestyle from a physical standpoint – so they can give themselves the best chance to have a long-lasting and successful life."
At the end of one of the interactive fitness drills, Wilson was playfully tackled by the children in his group and although he was at the bottom of a big pile of kids, nobody was laughing harder and enjoying it more than him. The kids had a good time and that was what the program was all about.
"This is really fun," said Jason, 10, from Cattaraugus-Little Valley. "I like everything."
"It's cool," said Ryan, 8, from the Discovery School in Buffalo. "I love to see all the Bills players and I really liked jumping over the pads."
"I like exercising and it's fun to be here," said Icelynn, 9, from School 32 in Buffalo. "This is great!"
The Play 60 Challenge is also a national partnership of the NFL and American Heart Association and one of the Bills biggest community programs. The goal of the program is to reduce childhood obesity by encouraging 30 minutes of daily exercise in school, plus 30 minutes at home.
Play 60 Challenge kits (exercise journals for each student, player trading cards, and tracking poster) were distributed to all Buffalo Public School classrooms (grades 3-6) plus schools throughout Western and Northeastern New York. In all, approximately 800 classrooms and a potential of 24,000 students were incentivized to play for 60 minutes a day.
The Buffalo Bills involvement is important to the program because the students look up to the players as role models and pay attention to what their heroes on the field say.
"When they (students) hear it from us, I definitely think it hammers the message home and reinforces what the parents and teachers have been trying to instill in them," said Wilson.
These students will also have a chance to receive tickets for the Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts game on January 3rd and be recognized on the field for a special 'Play 60 Challenge' pre-game ceremony.
The support of Bills partners BlueCross BlueShield and the American Heart Association is paramount to the success of the program. For more information, visit**www.nflrush.com**.