Dustin Colquitt heard nothing but cheers when he stepped in front of the gym full of students Tuesday at Sunset Valley Elementary School.
It was certainly a nice change of pace from what the Chiefs’ punter and his teammates have been hearing recently.
In a way, that made his being out there all the more personal and important.
“I think that coming out today shows you that just because things haven’t been going the way we wanted the last couple of weeks, you don’t change who you are,” Colquitt said. “So, that’s a message for the kids that, no matter what’s going on at work, you still have to be a responsible, healthy, and contribute to our society in a positive way.”
Colquitt came to Sunset Valley to help present $10,000 in grants to the school and to Lee’s Summit Elementary School from the Fuel Up to Play60 Program, a joint effort by the National Football League and the American Dairy Council.
This was more than just an opportunity for the Chiefs’ All-Pro punter to get away briefly from a four-game losing streak and suddenly less-than-assured playoff berth.
Colquitt is the spokesman for the Midwest Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play60 Program — a cause he takes seriously. One of the largest in-school wellness programs in the country, Fuel Up to Play60 encourages kids to make healthy eating and lifestyle choices and to commit to being active at least 60 minutes per day.
The program means so much to Colquitt that he brought his wife, Christia, and the couple’s five children along to see the presentation and hear the healthy message.
“I’m hoping my kids follow suit and follow in their shoes,” Colquitt said. “They’re homeschooled, so it’s important for me to get out and get them out and let them see kids in a school setting that are choosing to eat healthy and take care of their bodies.”
Sunset Valley and Lee’s Summit Elementary will split the $10,000 grant, which the program is awarding in the territory of each NFL club.
Sunset Valley will use its money to buy soccer goals and provide a smoothie bar for the nutrition department; Lee’s Summit Elementary is also using its money for a smoothie bar and to build a rock climbing wall.
“The students had been wanting soccer goals for numerous years, but they’re very expensive,” said Karen Reynolds, the physical education teacher at Sunset Valley. “And this will give us the opportunity to purchase them so they can have more activity and exercise.”
Reynolds, who has worked with the Play60 program for five years, said she’s seen it make a difference in her school.
“It works a lot on leadership, it works a lot on being able to exercise, and to teach others how to have 60 minutes of exercise every day, and about how eating healthy is the way to go,” Reynolds said.
That’s why Colquitt, who has played his entire 13-year NFL career with the Chiefs, likes to get away every once and a while.
“This is part of my community and they support us all year round,” Colquitt said. “This is just another way to say thank you and really kind of applaud them for something that they’re doing big in their school.”