Feb. 9, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It may be early February, but the sound of a familiar holiday song could be heard in a Boys and Girls Club gymnasium in Springfield on Feb. 8.
But wait ... those lyrics were a little different. "The Twelve Days of Fitmas"? And why were nine Missouri State student-athletes leading a group of children in a series of - you guessed it - 12 exercises that included jumping jacks and arm circles?
Santa and his elves were nowhere to be found Friday afternoon, but the group of about 20 children at the Boys and Girls Club Musgrave Unit seemed to be just as excited to meet the MSU student-athletes and participate in "Healthy Heroes," a kids' exercise program developed by Missouri State field hockey goalkeeper Andrea Bain.
The program's purpose is to empower student-athletes to help kids become more active and shape healthy habits, Bain said.
"I've been trying to think of a way for our team and our athletic program at Missouri State to have a way to connect with the community and I just thought that there's a lot of room for growth with healthy habits for kids," Bain said. "We want to help these kids have the opportunities we had as kids, and give them the chance to one day be college athletes like us."
Friday afternoon's events started with introductions from the MSU student-athletes, a list that included Bain, field hockey players Laura Tavares, Hillary Lawless, Reiann Stoute, Leah Reitmayer and Katie Mulloy; and football players C.J. Randall, Hunter Hays and Caleb Schaffitzel.
Schaffitzel, a safety for the football Bears, said he enjoyed seeing the happiness on the kids' faces.
"I just like seeing little kids get out there, smile, goof around and have fun," Schaffitzel said. "We just wanted to get them to live a healthy lifestyle, show them what we do as athletes and have a good time with them."
"The 12 Days of Fitmas" was the day's featured activity that included almost as much singing as sit-ups, forward lunges and heel taps. Missouri State will return to the Musgrave Unit the next three Fridays (Feb. 15, 22 and March 1) with new Healthy Heroes student-athletes and activities.
Bain said she's looking forward to continuing this work with the Boys and Girls Club.
"I think it's just important because I had the opportunity as a kid, and I had lots of role models growing up giving me the chance to be a better athlete," she said. "If we as an athletics community even help one kid get that chance, that makes all the difference."