Over 300 students braved the snow and cold weather to participate in the sixth annual Buffalo Bills Play 60 Challenge Fitness Party with 18 Buffalo Bills players and BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and American Heart Association volunteers yesterday at the Bills Fieldhouse in Orchard Park.
The large contingent of Bills players that participated in the event included Akin Ayodele, Jairus Byrd, Jon Corto, Dwan Edwards, Dominique Harris, Paul Hubbard, Donald Jones, Jammie Kirlew, Corey McIntyre, Arthur Moats, Paul Posluszny, Ko Quaye, Naaman Roosevelt, Garrison Sanborn, Bryan Scott, C.J. Spiller, Jonathan Stupar and George Wilson.
"I always look forward to today," said Wilson. "It's probably my favorite all-time Bills community event. We get a chance to interact with the kids on a level which we aren't often able to do. We get to exercise with them, and the kids get to see that we are regular people. We also show the benefits of living healthy lives. There's a lot of excitement in the air, and a lot of the other guys look forward to it as well."
The players and Dr. James A. Williams, Buffalo Public Schools superintendent, each shared a message about eating healthy and the importance of exercise with the elementary-aged children. The kids then went through interactive fitness stations which were run by the Bills players, ate a healthy lunch and received complimentary gift bags with Buffalo Bills, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and American Heart Association items.
"A lot of times there's so much negativity in the media, and this was a real positive event," said Scott. "For the kids to come out here and meet us first hand, run around with us, sweat with us, and joke around with us, I think it means a lot to them."
The number of Bills players supporting the event and the important message of "Play 60" was impressive.
"Our participation shows the students that we are normal people," said Wilson. "We are just men who happen to play football. We don't get caught up in the lifestyle that comes with playing football. We don't forgot about the people that look up to us, and people that have helped us get to where we are today. I'm here trying to pay it forward to this next generation of students, and hopefully in time they'll be able to pay it forward to the generation coming up after them."
The kids were thrilled to participate and the players seemed to have as much fun as the kids.
"The *Play 60 Challenge *party was an awesome event!" said Posluszny. "We had a huge turnout from the players and there were lots of kids. They all had smiles on their faces when they were leaving, so that's what counts. I got to run around with them and be a kid again, so it was a great day in my book. Hopefully the students were able to pick up some health tips from the players that they can incorporate into their daily lives."
"I came out in my football socks and shorts and I was ready to go!" said Scott. "I ran the 'W' drill. You have to sprint, back pedal, sprint some more and then catch the ball. The first few kids were like, 'What are we doing?' Then as time went by, they were sprinting and they had huge smiles on their faces. Working out and laughing are very contagious, so I had a ball."
Earlier in the season, over 2,500 students participated in the Play 60 Challenge kickoff assembly to make this year's event the biggest celebration yet. The 300 kids were rewarded with the party because of their commitment to the program.
The Play 60 Challenge, a classroom-based exercise program that gets kids engaged in 60 minutes of daily exercise (30 minutes in school/30 at home), is an NFL model, and the Bills Play 60 Challenge program is one of the top community programs in the NFL. It is endorsed nationally by the American Heart Association and supported locally by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York.
The Bills Play 60 Challenge was offered to all 3rd - 6th graders in the Buffalo Public Schools, the Niagara Falls Elementary Schools and Ellicott Elementary in Orchard Park, New York. This year, the Play 60 Challenge continued to be offered to all Western New York school districts that participate with BlueCross BlueShield.
For more information on the Play 60 Challenge program, visit www.nflrush.com.