Bills safety George Wilson has found something to keep him going in light of the Bills' recent struggles.
The third-year safety said a group of kids from the Buffalo Public Schools reinvigorated him Tuesday at the fourth annual What Moves U Field House Party that celebrated the Bills' partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and the American Heart Association in their continued commitment to helping area youths become more physically active through the NFL's What Moves U fitness program.
"It kind of takes the edge a little bit off of what we're going through on the field," Wilson said. "Just to come out here and see the joy in these kids' eyes, it makes you take a step back and look at the bigger picture and just appreciate what you have in your life. You see what you're doing in these kids' lives and they're going to remember it for the rest of their lives. "
Motivated by the fact that he didn't have such interactive or organized physical fitness programs growing up, Wilson has spearheaded the Bills' effort, part of the NFL's Play 60 campaign, to encourage healthy eating and exercising for at least 60 minutes each day. Wilson, wide receivers Lee Evans and C.J. Hawthorne and linebackers Marcus Buggs and Jon Corto led about 300 students in various physical fitness activities before hosting a nutritious lunch for the group.
Each player brought a different message to the group. Corto stressed the students' belief in their dreams. He referenced his own rise to the NFL, which the Orchard Park native attributed to working as hard as he could with what he had. He encouraged students to do the same through healthy eating and daily exercise.
"If you work hard, do the right things, eat the right things, you can do anything you want," Corto said.
Hawthorne encouraged students to turn off their TVs and video games and go outside to get exercise. Hawthorne referenced his own childhood, when his mother used to "kick me out of the house" in order to force him to get daily exercise.
"Find ways to have a good time and burn up energy," he said.
Evans, a Cleveland native, stressed that just because the weather in Buffalo is cold in the winter doesn't mean students can't get daily exercise. Evans said he turned to another creative outlet besides football to get his exercise.
"Everybody do something fun, whether it's by yourself in front of a mirror dancing or with some friends. Just because it's cold doesn't mean you can't be active."
Buffalo Public Schools physical education teacher Jim McMahon agreed, saying this year more than any other the What Moves U program is being integrated into physical education classes by daily warmup activities and progress journals.
Eileen Ryan, a nurse for the Buffalo Public Schools, stressed the increased importance of physical education she observes everyday. The program included a What Moves U Challenge Guide, Student Game Planners and Trading Cards.
"They have an intensity," she said. "They put everything into it. That's their release."
Randomly selected students from each classroom will also have a chance to receive free tickets for the Bills vs. New England home game Dec. 28. and will be on the field for pre-game ceremonies.