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Witten Visits NFL Play 60 Super School in Arlington
Dallas Cowboys memorabilia lined the corridors as Jason Witten made his way through the double doors to work out with a few “teammates.”
Survivor’s hit Eye Of The Tiger blared from the sound system while the Pro Bowl tight end ran his usual routes. But the quarterbacks weren’t Tony Romo and Kyle Orton. Instead, the Cowboys all-time leader in receptions caught passes from an array of elementary school children.
“It was awesome,” said Norris Pratt. “I was amazed and excited when Jason Witten showed up at my school.”
On Tuesday morning, Witten appeared at Swift Elementary, which was selected as an NFL PLAY 60 Super School. Before hitting the playground, he spoke about the value of exercising and staying fit.
“It’s important to teach these kids about eating healthy and exercising. After all, they are the future” he said. “But I also wanted to tell them to dream big and not to let anybody get in the way of their dreams.”
Donning his iconic No. 82 jersey, Witten escorted a sea of students out of the building and led fitness activities ranging from jumping jacks to high stepping to stretching as a part of the NFL’s PLAY 60 campaign, which helps kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day.
“We feel like a part of the Cowboys. It’s a big honor for our school and our children,” said music teacher Gina Kesner. “Jason Witten is the perfect role model for our students, so when we found out he was the one coming out, it was like the cherry on top.”
While the school knew they had been selected as the winner, students and faculty were unaware that their local hero was going to be the one directing the exercises. Swift Elementary principal Maryann White actually kept it a secret in order to create a buzz and sense of curiosity throughout the school.
“I wanted it to be a big surprise. Everyone was trying to figure it out but only three people on staff knew it was him,” White said. “We even waited until everyone left the building last night to decorate. When we finally let them know it was Jason Witten, everyone got so excited.”
Coming off a big win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, the event gave Witten a chance to take his mind off the field and have a refreshing time fulfilling his other passion. Witten is known for his remarkable charity work and has been a regular participant in NFL PLAY 60 initiatives throughout the past decade.
“It’s always good to do it after a win, that’s for sure. It really puts it all into perspective in the middle of the season,” he said. “It’s also great to be able to do it here in Arlington.
“The message is about so many different things, about encouraging them to go out and play is the biggest thing. We were all there at one time and had dreams and goals to achieve. They’re no different.”
As part of the prize for being named a Super School winner, Witten presented Swift Elementary with a $10,000 grant on behalf of NFL PLAY 60 to go towards the school’s health and wellness programming and equipment. Swift is one of 34 schools nationwide to be selected in the NFL PLAY 60 Super School contest, which required schools to submit three essays explaining how they planned to show their NFL team pride and incorporate football into their lesson plans for the 2012-13 academic year.
White says the school is not sure what the money will be used for, but an outside track and gym renovations are all possibilities.
“We are very excited to receive the grant(s),” Kesner said. “We will make the most of it and buy things that we wouldn’t normally be able to afford due to budget constrictions. We are extremely grateful.”
In a separate grant presentation, Swift Elementary received a $10,000 donation from Cowboys’ partner Kinect with Xbox 360 in recognition of their ongoing support of the Dallas Cowboys NFL PLAY 60 program. Kinect also provided Swift with a Kinect for Xbox 360 gaming console and held a drawing for one lucky student to take home a system of their own. Read