HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Titans receiver and Pro Bowl return specialist
Mariani joined Titans Cheerleaders Hannah, Heidi and Kiara and staff members for a raucous pep rally Wednesday to celebrate the Fuel Up to Play 60 “Titans of Taste” Purity Breakfast Contest that was won by Butler High School in Huntsville, Ala.
The afternoon event also included the presentation of a $5,000 check that was provided by Purity Dairies and the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA). Butler High School won the contest by increasing breakfast participation 63 percent for the month of October, meaning 311 more students ate breakfast at the school each day than had done so the previous month.
“Butler High School was rocking. They earned it. They did a great job,” Mariani said. “The participation in the program has grown immensely and they did so great. I think they increased by 63 percent and it was fun to come reward them and it was fun for us to be here and share their enthusiasm and help them learn about things and how doing this kind of thing affects them positively in the future.”
Laura Marbury, a nutrition affairs program manager with SUDIA, said starting the day with a healthy breakfast better prepares students to do their best.
“They increased their breakfast participation by 63 percent, so a lot more kids that weren’t eating breakfast before are this year and not just any breakfast but a healthy breakfast with low-fat dairy, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, something that will fuel them throughout the day and keep them focused,” Marbury said. “Research shows that eating a good and healthy breakfast improves your memory and also boosts test scores, so it’s a win-win for schools.
|Purity "Pint Man" looks on after Titans receiver Marc Mariani threw a football to a student during the pep rally. Click here for photos.|
“It’s a great opportunity and they get so fired up when they see someone from the Titans like Marc Mariani and the cheerleaders coming in here,” Marbury added. “It gets them motivated and teaches them the importance of eating a healthy breakfast and getting physical activity in every day, so it’s very rewarding to see and be able to celebrate this very good cause.”
After the pep rally, Mariani met with select students for a question-and-answer session. He told the students that he’s paid much more attention to nutrition since breaking his leg during the 2012 preseason, and said he’s pleased to pass along that message.
“It’s something that’s been drilled into me and when I was growing up there weren’t programs like this around, so to be able to come here and help kids learn these things and be more aware of their nutrition and their activity, it’s awesome,” Mariani said. “It’s a great program. The NFL does a great job. Purity Dairies does a great job and the dairy farmers are incredible sponsors of this. It’s a lot of fun.”
The former walk-on at the University of Montana and seventh-round selection of the Titans in the 2010 NFL Draft has made other school visits in years past, but this was his first to a high school. He said he enjoys those opportunities to meet and encourage others to set and pursue their goals.
“It was definitely different, and I was a little apprehensive, I’m not going to lie,” Mariani said. “I didn’t know if they were going to accept the message, but once I got their ear and once they sat down and you could see the words you were saying were resonating and hitting home a little bit.”
Additionally, cash prizes of $3,000 were presented to the first place winners at Tusculum Elementary School in Nashville, East Middle School in Tullahoma, Tenn., and Johnson High School in Huntsville, Ala. As the winner of the video contest, Brentwood High School was awarded $1,000.
About Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a partnership with the National Football League that promotes the importance of healthy nutrition and daily physical activities. For more information about the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, visit www.fueluptoplay60.com.
About the Southeast Dairy Association
On behalf of dairy farm families, the nonprofit Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy processors and the public to promote dairy foods. For more information, visit www.southeastdairy.org.