MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - National Football League players, cheerleaders and mascots visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii for the NFL Play 60 initiative, Jan. 22.
The Play 60 program is the NFL’s national youth health and fitness movement. The program focuses on ensuring the next generation of children are healthy by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.
Justin Bethel, cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals, said it was amazing to have the opportunity to come to MCB Hawaii and interact with the community.
“I got the chance today to give back to the kids,” Bethel added. “It’s a great feeling to be able to do what I love while giving back.”
Peter O’Reilly, vice president of marketing for the NFL, said players from the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars played with the 5th and 6th graders of Mokapu Elementary School while players from the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns painted a mural for the Semper Fit Center Gym. There were a total of 16 players volunteering on base.
“The program was launched in 2007,” O’Reilly said. “We are committed to fighting childhood obesity by keeping children active.”
O’Reilly explained that the 88 players playing in the NFL Pro Bowl participated in the Play 60 event at different military installations around Oahu.
Keoki Fraser, vice principal for Mokapu Elementary, said approximately 150 children participated in the event.
“The NFL Play 60 program message is in line with our school’s wellness policy,” Fraser said. “Our policy is structured recess and physical education. Physical fitness has a profound impact on the kids, and we are fortune for the opportunity to have healthy adults be mentors to them while the players and service members set a positive example. These kids may view the players as heroes, just like their moms and dads are.”
The children ran through eight stations manned by the NFL players. The players taught the kids football fundamentals and movements. While moving through some of the obstacles, the players and children also tossed a football, teaching the kids how to catch and throw. They autographed Play 60 T-shirts for the students, and the NFL cheerleaders taught them some dance moves.
Sgt. Benjamin Larivee, an aviation technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24, and the Single Marine & Sailor Program representative for his unit, said he was looking forward to volunteering at the event.
“To be able to play with NFL players is a dream come true for some people,” Larivee said. “Volunteering today was a good opportunity to help and see the players interacting with the children.”
Taeya Trujillo, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Mokapu Elementary, said it was special to her to be able to meet and play with the players.
“I got to play football with them,” Trujillo said. “It was fun to run around and it wasn’t even recess.”