Through autographs, flag football, dodgeball and dancing, smiles and laughter lit up the gymnasium. This event, like other annual Hometown Huddle events around the country, is a partnership between United Way and the NFL to increase awareness of youth health and wellness. Every year since 1999, NFL players, coaches and leadership have participated in a variety of Hometown Huddle events and service projects in their respective cities.
To kick off the United Way of Northeast Florida Highlands Middle School event Nov. 3, Jaguar Denard Robinson spoke to students about the importance of staying active while having fun. He also spoke about the importance of doing well in school and giving back to the community. Soon after Robinson spoke, the rules of the first game — flag football — were explained by Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation Program Coordinator T-Neisha Tate. The children were excited to get started.
Speed, agility and friendly competition went hand-in-hand as both Jags players and students enjoyed friendly games of flag football, dodgeball and dancing — with post-activity selfies, of course.
“Those kids were just having so much fun!” said Tevlin Smith, linebacker for the Jaguars.
Smith and several of the other players took the time to talk to the families and students, encouraging them to do well in school. Other Jaguars in attendance included A.J. Cann, Allen Hurns, Craig Loston, Bryan Walters and Sam Young.
“This was a good atmosphere for the whole family,” said parent Kelsey Holmes.
Holmes said her two children, who are Achievers For Life students, benefit in many ways from the United Way program, especially academically. Hometown Huddle, she said, was a good reminder to parents to be actively involved with their children.
“It was a good workout,” said Robinson post-event. “A good workout for the best reason!”
In addition to our gratitude for the Jaguars players’ participation, thank you to Baptist Health for being on hand to provide health screenings for Achievers For Life families during the event.
Hometown Huddle and Achievers For Life are two of many United Way of Northeast Florida initiatives making a difference in our community every day. Help us continue to make a difference by participating in #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving, on Dec. 1. Ready to donate now? Visit www.unitedwaynefl.org/donate.