Pierce students show what they’re made of
TAMPA - The kids at Pierce Middle School were recently rewarded with a visit from numerous Tampa Bay Buccaneer players. Pierce received a $5,000 donation toward new physical education equipment for winning the Bucs Play 60 Challenge, a competition that included more than 10 middle schools in the Tampa Bay area. It was an exercise to see which sixth-grade class could log the most hours of outside activity. Pierce won the competition and won a customized phys-ed makeover — as well as a visit from some of their favorite NFL players. After all, it was a chance to meet quarterback Josh Freeman, defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, and linebackers Lavonte David and Dekoda Watson, not to mention a bevy of Bucs cheerleaders. The players were led by the school band and school cheerleaders through the walkways of Pierce while students lined both sides of the halls.The kids at Pierce totaled more than 370,000 minutes of exercise. Freeman couldn't help but applaud the Pierce students who gathered in the school gymnasium. “I want to congratulate you on all the work you've done,” Freeman said. “It is so important to get outside and have fun. Those hours are so important to you.” Several of the kids who participated in the Play 60 Challenge were allowed to ask questions. NFL teams throughout the league have been teaming up with area American Heart Association affiliates to tailor the campaign to their local communities. Childhood obesity rates continue to be at an all-time high, and today nearly one in three kids and teens in the United States are obese or overweight. Five other Tampa Bay schools will receive checks for $1,000 as part of a gym makeover. The schools are Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, Liberty Middle School, Stewart Middle School, Turkey Creek Middle School, and Mulrennan Middle School. For more information about the initiative, visit Heart.org /NFLPlay60Challenge.