BRIGHTON, Colo. – Students at Bromley East Charter School will soon see a marked increase in the school's emphasis on exercise, thanks to NFL Play 60.
Running back Willis McGahee visited the school Tuesday morning to present a $10,000 grant for health and wellness that is meant to encourage kids to exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. The grant will help Bromley East upgrade its equipment and increase its commitment to physical activity in a big way.
"This is absolutely the most amazing thing I've ever came across in my 13 years as being as a teacher," athletic director Eric Heinz said. "There's been nothing this amazing at school. Being able to actually do it on my own accord, I applied for the grant for our kids, not for me. It's for them."
Lori Sheldon, the school's executive director, said receiving the grant marked a historic day for the school. Getting to see a role model like McGahee made the moment even more special for the kids.
"To have Mr. McGahee here as a celebrity, if you will, to address our students is very exciting for them," Sheldon said. "It's once in a lifetime for some of these students and we're thrilled to have him on our campus."
At an assembly attended by all of the school's 925 students, McGahee entered a gym full of Broncos orange and blue to raucous applause from the Kindergarten-through-eighth grade student body.
"It's crazy," McGahee said of the students' reaction. "When I walked in, it was just ridiculous. I did it last year and it was me and Von Miller and Von did all the talking so I was really just laid back. So now it was my turn to do all the talking, I got a little nervous, but I pulled it together."
McGahee said the program's goal is one he fully supports and emphasized the fact that it's never too early to begin establishing an active lifestyle.
"You want to be one of those active kids that's out here running around," McGahee said. "I was always active when I was little, so it paid off in the long run. I'm pretty sure some of these kids have dreams of playing in the NFL or the NBA or Wimbledon or something like that. It starts now, it doesn't start later on in life. It starts now at an early age and this is the time you need to capture it."
Tuesday also gave McGahee an opportunity to involve himself in the local community, something he both values and enjoys.
"It's always good to give back to the community just to let everybody know we're regular people," McGahee said. "We're not on this high pedestal where we don't come back and interact. It shows the community that we're involved and we're here – we're not going anywhere."
After the assembly, McGahee joined 50 of the kids outside for a variety of physical activities including a relay race, jump rope, push-ups, sit-ups and curls with light dumbbells. To determine who got to join McGahee on the recess field, each of the students submitted an essay with the principals grading them and selecting the top 50.
"Because we have 925 in our student body, of course everybody wanted to participate," Sheldon said. "So we had to think of an idea. What we did is we had everyone write an essay about why they should be chosen to work out with Mr. McGahee today. So they submitted those and the principals sat down and we graded and graded and graded. What I'm so thrilled about is it's a wide selection of our whole school, Kindergarten through eighth grade. And it takes into consideration all types of students, whether they have special needs or they're gifted, it was a whole broad spectrum."
McGahee made it clear that he had no intentions of taking it easy on the kids chosen for the workout.
"I want to see who has the best agility out here," McGahee smiled. "I put them to work. I really tested them."