Only GENYOUth — cofounded by the National Football League (NFL) and the National Dairy Council — could bring together teachers, nutritionists, and professional athletes to help improve nutrition and physical activity in U.S. schools. This extremely unique talent base works on behalf of both organizations to encourage school children to eat heathy and routinely exercise through the program known as Fuel Up to Play 60, developed by the National Dairy Council and the NFL.
At its 2018 fundraiser gala, Alexis Glick, chief executive officer of GENYOUth, honored some of the superheroes who go the extra mile to empower youth to lead change in their schools.
Fans of the Buffalo Bills respect this player as a four-time Super Bowl running back, while Oklahoma State Cowboys college football fans know his number 34 is only one of three jersey numbers retired at the school. In 2008, this former Heisman Trophy candidate was inducted into the College Hall of Fame.
In 1991, he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
That’s the football side of Thurman Thomas.
However, this man also has a big, big heart. He has been a champion of Fuel Up to Play 60 since its inception.
“He has been the team’s Fuel Up to Play 60 ambassador the entire time,” said Glick to those attending the GENYOUth Gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. “He has participated in 38 Fuel Up to Play 60 events in the Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse markets,” said Glick.
“He represents the countless NFL players — active, alumni, and the executives — who are an integral part of Fuel Up to Play 60, working with kids every day of the year,” Glick continued.
Superheroes beyond football and in the classroom
Yesenia Pion, a middle school teacher, has devoted seven years as a Fuel Up to Play 60 program adviser, leading the program in her school . . . impacting students’ lives each and every day.
“As a result of Pion’s efforts, her school achieved touchdown status seven times; every year that she has conducted the program,” stated Glick. “She has attended two of our summits and has said that Fuel Up to Play 60 has helped her extend her ability to teach health class in her classroom, creating activities that are fun and filled with healthy living. She involves students in her district by hosting family fun nights, presents healthy snacks cooking demos, and encourages families to visit the fitness circuit she and her co-adviser created several years ago,” said Glick.
“She represents the large and growing cadre of program advisers nationwide who give of their time in this vital role that we need to help our program thrive in schools,” concluded Glick of the teacher, simply known to her students as Jessie, who hails from East Middle School in Brentwood, N.Y., on Long Island.
Leaders in nutrition and dairy
“As a registered dietitian-nutritionist and fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this woman has dedicated 30 years to nutrition, health, and wellness,” commented Glick of Jean Ragalie-Carr, the third honoree at the GENYOUth Gala. “Two of her passions are youth wellness and the inextricable link between nutrition and agriculture. Her work at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as past chair of its foundation includes working on that important connection between farmers, dietitians, and countless individuals across this country.
“She has led the National Dairy Council since 1996,” explained Glick, building up to the announcement.
“She has said, ‘It’s a privilege to help lead initiatives that improve public health, that help children eat right, to move more, to fight hunger, and to educate people about health and wellness,’” added Glick.
“This remarkable woman had the vision to help lead the creation of Fuel Up to Play 60. She has literally been the program’s greatest champion since day one, representing America’s dairy farmers,” Glick concluded in honoring Ragalie-Carr, who serves as president of the National Dairy Council.
“The Fuel Up to Play 60 program has become the largest in-school health and wellness program in the country reaching more than 73,000 schools and an estimated 38 million students,” Roger Goodell said during the gathering with all walks of life present, from students, teachers, farmers, nutritionist, and sports celebrities.