Mariani, Parents Visit Super School

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Marc Mariani joined Titans cheerleaders in presenting a $10,000 check to Knox Doss Middle School in Hendersonville on Tuesday.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The nearly 700 amount of students at Knox Doss Middle School in Hendersonville on Tuesday gave a rock star's welcome to Titans wide receiver and Pro-Bowl Kick Returner Marc Mariani.

Mariani, along with his parents, Steve and Julie, and Titans cheerleaders Stefanie and Ashley were on hand to congratulate and celebrate the NFL's PLAY 60 Super School in the Titans market.   The appearance was part of the NFL's Back to Football Friday Super School sweepstakes in which the NFL selected one school in each of the 32 NFL markets and two non-NFL markets as super fans for the ultimate school appearance and a $10,000 grant.

To celebrate the start of the 2011 NFL season, Titans fans were encouraged to demonstrate their passion for their favorite team by planning a unique Back to Football Friday event for their school, all to support youth health and wellness.  Thousands of schools across the country entered the Back to Football Friday contest by submitting photos of their event and answered brief essay questions that were evaluated by the NFL for their show of support for their favorite team and their commitment to health and wellness.

Mariani helped present the $10,000 grant from the NFL to the school for health and wellness programming and equipment.  He also participated in the "Ultimate NFL Physical Education Class," leading students who were chosen for their citizenship through stations that included hula hoops, free weights station and a football relay.  In addition, Marc's parents, Steve and Julie were on hand for the visit to talk about their healthy lifestyle and recognize the school's Super Parents, Bill and Amy Breedlove, with a $1,000 grant to the school in their honor.  In total, the school received $11,000 from NFL and the Titans to promote PLAY 60, health and wellness.

The sweepstakes was part of the NFL's "PLAY 60" campaign, which encourages healthy living through an active lifestyle that includes 60 minutes of play per day as well as a eating a balanced nutritional diet.  The Titans are partners with the Southeast Dairy Association and American Heart Association in relaying the PLAY 60 message throughout the year.

Mariani, a second year pro, told students no one thought he would ever be where he is today – an NFL player living out his dream.

"I loved football but when I started high school football, I was the only player under 100 pounds," said Mariani.  "I was 5'5" and 95 pounds but I was a scrappy guy who always worked hard."

In speaking to the assembly of students, Mariani stressed the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and about what it is like to be a professional football player, making many comparisons to being a student.   He also told students about the rigorous work the Titans do during the week to prepare for games. Arriving at Baptist Sports Park, the Titans' practice facility, about 6:30 a.m. on routine Wednesdays and players study film, terminology and a playbook of more than 100 plays each week before hitting the practice field and after practice they go back and study more before going home.

Knox Doss Middle plans to use the grant money to purchase heart rate monitors to teach and allow students to witness changes in his/her heart rate as they exercise, age appropriate weight equipment, and nets & racquets to teach tennis and badminton skills.  In addition, they'll allocate funds to support the athletic program, Volleyball Club, Mustang RUN CLUB and cheerleading squad.

"This is a large grant and Coach Taylor (Knox Doss PE Teacher) will definitely put it to use," said Knox Doss Principal Kenneth Powel. "Coach is just excited and she has a list about a mile long of things she would like to do with the grant money."

Powel said the visit from Mariani and the other guests was completely "awesome" and everyone did a great job.

Mariani told reporters it was a fun day to be able to come out to the school and be with the kids working with NFL PLAY and Fuel up to PLAY 60 campaigns.

"I hope we make a difference," Mariani said. "It means a lot to me being asked to be a part of the PLAY 60 campaign.  It's one of those things where I hope my words 'sunk-in' and the students use it down the road and that it helps them on their journey."

About the NFL/Titans "Play 60" Campaign:

The Titans "Play 60" initiative encourages youth to get at least sixty minutes of physical activity or play per day in effort to fight childhood obesity. Partnerships with local non-profit organizations, like Nashville Metro Public Schools, American Heart Association and the National Dairy Council, have enhanced this mission and opportunity to reach out to America's youth.  Since the NFL's Play 60 inception, the NFL has committed over $100 million to youth health and fitness through programming, media time for public service announcements and grants from Titans Owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr., and his fellow NFL owners and players.  For more information about the NFL's Play 60 campaign please visit http://www.nflrush.com/health.

About the Southeast Dairy Association:

On behalf of dairy farm families, the non-profit Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA), works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy processors and the public to promote dairy foods. For more information, visit www.southeastdairy.org or click here to connect with SUDIA on Facebook.

About the American Heart Association:

The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. To find out how to help kids live heart-healthy lives, visit www.heart.org/kids. To learn more about your heart health and what you can do about it, take the "Life's Simple 7" quiz at http://www.mylifecheck.org/.

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