Carolina Panthers 'fuel up' with Hudson Elementary

Apr. 18, 2014 @ 06:45 AM

Hudson Elementary and Middle Schools students’ screams of excitement could have drowned out the city noises of downtown Charlotte if they had been at Bank of America Stadium. Instead they reverberated deafeningly inside Hudson Middle School’s gym to welcome Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano, running back Kenjon Barner and mascot Sir Purr.

Hudson Elementary's students won the Fuel Up to Play 60 challenge for healthy eating and physical activity, sponsored by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, by having about 650 students participate, more than any other school in the state.

To reward the students for the win, Gano, Barner, Sir Purr and other Carolina Panthers personnel came to Hudson Middle -- it has a larger gym than the elementary school -- to give away prizes, play games and remind the kids of the importance of physical activity, Gano said.

“Every time there’s an opportunity like this I try to hop on," he said. "It’s a lot of fun. The kids really enjoy it. It makes my job special. Having this type of platform of being able to give back makes it worth it.”

Guy Garner, director of child nutrition for Caldwell County Schools, also was given a check for $88,000. Half with go toward student fitness programs and the other half to breakfast and lunch nutrition programs.

Nearly 1,000 students crowded into the gym, with middle schoolers in the bleachers and elementary students on the floor. An inflatable panther head was blown up and had a large Jeopardy game board propped up in front of it. Giant, inflatable milk and chocolate milk bottles framed the board. Kids sported eye-black stickers reading “Fuel Up” on one side and “With Milk” on the other. Other students had milk mustache stickers above their lips.

After a screaming contest, a game of Carolina Panthers Jeopardy began. Six students had been pre-chosen, three to a team, and given a blue or black Panthers jersey with their name on the back. All of the questions dealt with physical activity, such as “How long will it take to dance off a large order of French fries at 250 calories?” The answer – 2.5 hours. Many of the “questions” were actually physical challenges.

There were two obstacle courses, one for teachers and one for students, and a student-teacher dance-off, where second-grade teacher Shelly Oliver said she could not compete with the student Elijah Bentley’s moves.

“I’ve done hip hop, jazz, ballet, tap and aerobics,” Bentley said. “I wish I would have had my other shoes.”