Rams players, cheerleaders encourage students to tackle self-respect

October 15, 2008

Rams players, cheerleaders encourage students to tackle self-respect
Rams players, cheerleaders encourage students to tackle self-respect
Rams players, cheerleaders encourage students to tackle self-respect

By Jacqueline Lee

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE -- Eight-year-old Helen Jacobson charged through the obstacle course, rid herself of the football she cradled and did her endzone dance without thinking.

In the distance, one child's voice was heard above others: "That was a good one!"

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Derek Stanley grinned as he handed the ball to the next student in line.

Stanley was one of several Rams players and cheerleaders who exercised with the students and talked to them about building character Tuesday afternoon as part of the NFL and United Way of Greater St. Louis' Hometown Huddle.

The Rams also said they wanted to show their appreciation to those in the Air Force.

Just minutes before, Stanley had paused the activity to tell the students of the base's youth center, "It's very imperative that everybody show me an endzone dance or I'm going to be very disappointed."

He explained why the endzone dance was important: "The endzone dance shows you a little bit of the person's character."

Stanley said that he has yet to perform his own endzone dance, but the Rams' first win of the season, a 19-17 victory against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, is reason to celebrate.

The students donned white T-shirts imprinted with character traits, such as "self-discipline," "courage" and "respect."

"If you look at the words on their T-shirts, hopefully we can show them these things through example and have a positive impact on them," quarterback Trent Green said.

At the end of the event, linebacker Chris Draft asked student Tyler Ducheny what he learned from the event.

"Always have good sportsmanship when you do something good," Tyler answered.

All 32 NFL teams have worked with their local United Way groups to organize this national day of community service since 1999.

The United Way of Greater St. Louis has set a goal to raise $65.6 million this year, and it has raised more than $38 million so far.

Proceeds go towards events such as this year's metro-east Hometown Huddle, which focused on fitness and nutrition to prevent and reduce youth obesity.

"It gives the kids an opportunity to learn about healthy living from people who are important to them, idols to them," youth center director Cheryl Cochran said. "They're building character by learning how their actions affect other people in their life."

The event was held for the first time at Scott Air Force Base, which has an online fitness and health program called FitFactor for children associated with the Air Force.