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Eagles Continue Battle Vs. Childhood Obesity

The Eagles and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey hosted a pep rally and relay race for students at Wissahickon High School on Monday to advocate healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle...

Thirty-two teams, two days and hundreds of lives being affected. That is what the NFL Hometown Huddle is all about.

On Monday, the Eagles traveled to Wissahickon High School in Montgomery County, Pa. and partnered up with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey to host a pep rally for the students. The pep rally's main goal was to educate the students on healthy eating, proper exercise and fitness, and an overall healthy lifestyle.

Here are the facts. According to many studies, overweight children have a 25-50 percent chance of becoming overweight adults. Those odds dramatically increase to 78 percent for older adolescents who are overweight. By not exercising or living a healthy lifestyle, children are at a higher risk of suffering from poor health. Cardiovascular disease, such as sudden cardiac arrest, is another health problem that can surface in children based on an insufficient diet and lack of exercise.

Since 1999, NFL teams have participated in a variety of hands-on community service projects, known collectively as Hometown Huddle. The NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle is a league-wide day of service designed to bring awareness and impact to the issue of youth health and fitness. The United Way-NFL partnership's NFL PLAY 60 campaign is aimed to fulfill United Way's goal of 1.9 million more healthy young people by 2018. Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL's long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations like United Way.

"It has been a wonderful partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL," said Kevin Dow, senior vice president of impact and innovation at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. "This has been the 16th year that we've been doing this and the NFL has been a great partner of the United Way for a long time."

Specifically in Philadelphia, Mr. Dow could not be any happier.

"Here in Philadelphia we very much enjoy the relationship. We appreciate the ability to partner with a solid organization that has solid leadership and a solid ownership team who can put a winning team on the field year in and year out, and we can't beat that. We at the United Way think that we are high performers and in the Eagles we have a high performing team, so the collaboration is great for us."

The Eagles were proudly represented by cornerback Bradley Fletcher, community relations coordinator Holly Hubbard, Alycia and Pilar from the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders and, of course, SWOOP!

Fletcher put the importance of healthy eating and exercising in an analogy as he talked to the 1,400 students.

"You can think of all of this by thinking about a house that you built. You've got this nice house that you made, and when you put down the foundation for it, do you want to put it down with sand? So that when years go by, your house, or body, doesn't do well and has issues later in life. Or would you want to put some strong concrete down as your foundation? So that when your house, or body, is built, it is strong for years on years," Fletcher said. "You want to build a concrete foundation for your house and your body's foundation can be strong by healthy eating and plenty of fitness and exercise."

The Eagles were also proud to present the Wissahickon Athletic Department with a check for $10,000. This money will provide the district with more resources to help teach and provide healthy exercise and enjoyable fitness options to the students.

The event concluded with relay races, showing the students that exercise is fun and enjoyable. Fletcher participated in these relay races, along with Alycia and Pilar. The relay races consisted of multiple different activities as the teams ran, did pushups, jumped rope and even rolled tires down the floor of the gymnasium.

"It was really good to see all of the kids exercising and showing all of the different ways to exercise," Fletcher said. "It really demonstrated that any type of exercise is better than no exercise at all. It's especially great that we were able to show that you can have fun exercising too."

The day also had another very important topic. Cardiovascular disease is a dangerous problem in everyone, even in children and young adults, especially student-athletes. This is not any more evident than in the story of Phyllis and Darren Sudman. These co-founders of Simon's Fund, a Philadelphia area non-profit and an Eagles Care partner, lost their child, Simon, 10 years ago to the day from sudden cardiac arrest. The tragedy was sudden, unannounced and a devastating shock to Sudman family. After the passing of their child, they were able to detect the cause and this spawned the creation of Simon's Fund.

Simon's Fund was established in 2005 and provides free heart screenings to children, primarily in the Greater Philadelphia area. It also sponsors medical research projects, hosts awareness events, works with major medical institutions and promotes legislation.

"We want to prevent other families from losing their kids from detectable and treatable heart conditions," Mr. Sudman said. "We started providing free heart screenings, started working with lawmakers to pass laws to protect student athletes and we're watching a cardiac registry to promote research in this area."

Simon's Fund was tied into this year's Hometown Huddle to advocate a special day this weekend. On Sunday, October 26, Simon's Fund will host free heart screenings at Wissahickon High School for children. These screenings have found potentially fatal problems with children before and hopefully this weekend they will save more lives from potential heart issues. The Philadelphia Eagles proudly donated $5,000 to Simon's Fund to help this event on Sunday. That money will be used to screen over 200 children and potentially save a handful of lives.

"We're really excited to work with the Eagles," Mr. Sudman said. "The thing that the Eagles family can do for us, and for themselves, is to learn about the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and understand that it is not just an adult thing. Everyone needs to learn that if their kid passes out playing sports, that it could be related to an undetected heart condition and the Eagles can help us advocate that."

Remember to bring your child to Wissahickon High School this Sunday for a free heart screening and feel free to go to to learn more about the foundation.

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