The Broncos hosted a fun morning of activities with Western Dairy for Fuel Up to Play 60's 2017 Fuel Greatness Touchdown Recognition event.
DENVER —** For the first time in his Broncos career, Darian Stewart was a spectator in a seat at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Tuesday.
On this day, Stewart joined a panel of judges to hear pitches from nine groups of middle-school students in a suite on the east side of the stadium as part of Fuel Up to Play 60's 2017 Fuel Greatness Touchdown Recognition event.
The event featured myriad activities for about 300 students from 42 local elementary and middle schools that completed the six steps to reach "touchdown" recognition. Students took tours of the stadium, learned a dance routine with Broncos cheerleaders, learned about healthy nutrition and more. The elementary-school and middle-school students also had separate activity options.
The younger group met Justin Simmons and drew Play 60 cleats for Virgil Green to pick from for his My Cause My Cleats design for the Broncos' Week 13 game against the Dolphins while the middle-school students had the chance to improve their schools.
And that's where Darian Stewart comes in. He and the other judges had $10,000 to award to the groups of middle schoolers, including a $5,000 grant, one $2,000 runner-up grant and three $1,000 grants, based on the strength of their ideas of how they can improve their schools when it comes to nutrition or physical activity.
"These kids are very bright and they had some great pitches for us and great plans to help their peers have better food in their schools," Stewart said. "They're taking on a leadership role and doing a great job with it."
The students had only two minutes to impart their visions to the judges and three minutes to take questions, but they all left the judges impressed with their ideas.
"From the nutrition side, we heard a lot about healthy eating," said Allie Pisching, the Broncos' Executive Director of Community Development. "One of the pitches was a farm-to-table peer-education program. So it was a Friday afternoon class where students would be teaching other students how to prepare healthy meals. … We heard about smoothie programs, hosting a smoothie station for breakfast so kids could get a nutritious breakfast through a smoothie bar, which is fun and new for their school.
"And then on the physical education side, we heard everything from renovating existing sport courts, painting and resurfacing, to new sporting equipment that would help implement some new games and tournaments at the school, and also adding a walking track to the school with different activity stations around it. We were impressed by all the presentations. It was harder than I thought it would be to really narrow it down to the winners."
Stewart, Pisching and the other two judges — a board member of Western Dairy Association and an Epicurean Group chef — ended up giving the $5,000 grant to Brush Middle School, whose students proposed upgrading the school's walking track with activity and fitness stations that can be used by students and the community.
For Stewart, this was a day well spent with an impact that will last much longer than his participation as a judge.
"A healthy lifestyle any time at a young age is going to be beneficial to any kid growing up," he said. "I think just being able to stay active is a huge part in a kid's life. Playing outside, exercising, it helps them live longer."