By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The third annual United Way of Central Texas Hometown Huddle, presented by United Rentals, took place at Crusader Stadium, on Saturday, March 24. Approximately 100 children participated in non-contact football drills, led by UMHB football players and T3 staff.
“The four pillars of United Way are financial stability, health, education and basic needs – this event falls under the health pillar as we are committed to working together to promote a healthier community. Our partner sponsor is United Rentals. However we are grateful to our additional sponsors – UMHB, T3, Kohl’s, HEB Plus, and Don Ringler,” explained Veshell Greene, Director of Public Relations of United Way of Central Texas. “My fitness journal began about five years ago. I’m a cross fitter, and fitness has changed my life. There is a direct correlation between being physically strong and overcoming mental blocks – building strength builds confidence. I’m happy to be able to share this with kids today.”
UMHB receiver Derek Sides, an Exercise Sports Science major, warmed the participating kids up by leading them through a series of exercises and stretches.
“The community gives so much to us, and we are happy to give back to the community today. My dad is a football coach in Graham, and having him on the sidelines meant a lot to me when I played in high school,” stated Sides. “My dad instilled in me the importance of having character – you can’t just be a good player…. you have to live a good life on and off the field. I look forward to being a teacher and a coach so I can have an impact on kids like my dad had on me.”
The logistics of the Hometown Huddle were handled by approximately 20 volunteers working together to deliver a powerful message about the importance of daily physical activity. The guest speaker was Chicago Bears Linebacker and UMHB alumnus Jerrell Freeman.
“Today is about making sure kids get outside and get 60 minutes of physical activity. When I was growing up, my mom sent us outside to play, so activity was never a concern. Now in the age of technology taking over kids lives, physical activity needs to be more intentional,” said Freeman. “You have to make time to get outside and stay active – you have to live your best life.”
Ten-year-old Kelton Driska, a 4th grader in Cameron, attended the Hometown Huddle for the second year in a row.
“Kelton likes to be active – he enjoys working out and loves competing. He competes well and is always takes advantage of opportunities to get better. This is his second year participating in the Hometown Huddle – it’s hard work, but he enjoys it because the players make it fun for them,” remarked Alushka Driska, Kelton’s mom.
The United Way of Central Texas Hometown Huddle serves as a reminder of how powerful a community working together can be.
One of the volunteers working Saturday was Aly McMillan, Director of Community Impact for United Way of Central Texas.
“I’ve helped out with this event each year, and I love it – teaching kids and engaging kids in physical activity is important to us. I’ve lived in other places, and I’ve never seen a community come together as this one does. This community does so much for its’ people. There is no shortage of love for our fellow man here in Central Texas. It’s inspiring,” said McMillan.