MARQUETTE - Approximately 250 Upper Peninsula fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students took over the artificial turf of Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome on Saturday morning for Fuel U.P. Get Active in the Dome.
The event, which was sponsored by Jilbert's Dairy and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, is part of the National Football League's Fuel Up to Play 60 program that focuses on teaching kids and their parents about eating healthy diets and staying active to be healthy the rest of their life.
"We just want them to know that exercise can be a fun thing," said Ken Reich, the Executive Director of Marketing for the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. "It's not hard to do. ... They can be simple things - get outside and ride a bike, jump rope. There's all kinds of activities that can be fun. They don't have to make it work. Make it a fun thing.
Northern Michigan University quarterback Ryan Morley, far right, explains a drill to Upper Peninsula grade schoolers during Fuel U.P. Get Active on Saturday at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Luther Elliss explains to the crowd the importance of eating right and being active to staying healthy. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
Olympic snowboarder Nick Baumgartner of Iron River shares his stories from the Olympics and X-Games. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
Former Detroit Lions Luther Ellis, second from left, and Lomas Brown, far right, sign autographs for kids alongside former Green Bay Packer Tony Fisher, second from right, during Fuel U.P. Get Active on Saturday at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
Blizzard T. Husky gets down on all fours to participate in a drill. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
"Also, they need to eat the five food groups that we've all been taught as kids. They're all an important part of our diet. There's a place for everything in a diet."
Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Luther Elliss (1995-2003) and offensive tackle Lomas Brown (1985-95) were on hand, as well as former Green Bay Packers running back Tony Fisher (2002-05) and Olympic snowboarder Nick Baumgartner of Iron River.
Baumgartner and Elliss both spoke to the crowd with Baumgartner sharing his story of how he reached the X-Games and Olympics, while Elliss shared with the crowd a rule he has for his children when it comes to being active.
"I tell my kids, for every 60 minutes of video games they play, like Madden, they have to play outside for 60 minutes," Elliss said.
Stations were set up around the Superior Dome for student to take part in activities with student-athletes from Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech.
Healthy snacks were provided and students were able to get autographs from Elliss, Brown and Fisher.
"It's pretty awesome to have this many kids here doing this with the players who came in and all the volunteers we got," said former Jilbert Dairy sales manager Gordon Mielke, who organized the event after witnessing a similar event at Ford Field in Detroit draw 200 kids in 2012. "I couldn't be happier."
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org