40 Children from Miles Park visited the Browns Training Facility as a reward for having the highest average minutes logged during the 6-week challenge
Daniel Walker never knew shooting hoops and throwing a football around could lead to this.
The eighth grader at Miles Park Elementary got to meet his favorite Browns player, Barkevious Mingo, because he and the rest of his classmates participated in – and won– this year's Browns PLAY 60 challenge.
"I didn't know that was him today, I said 'Mr. Mingo,' he said 'Yes sir?'" Walker said. "My heart just dropped. I was just so excited."
Mingo, along with fellow outside linebacker Scott Solomon, led the students on a tour of the Browns training facility in Berea. They were later joined by offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, who showed up after his workout. And while Mingo said his tour guide skills need work, at the end of the day, it was all about the kids.
"I think it means the world, a lot of these kids, they were happy," Mingo said. "They were like, 'this made my day, this is the best thing to happen to me.'
"They loved it, they had fun and that's what it's all about."
The Browns partnered with the American Heart Association, in association with University Hospitals, American Dairy Association Mideast and Fuel Up to PLAY 60 to create the Browns PLAY 60 Challenge. The program runs six weeks for second-through-eighth-grade students with the goal of keeping them healthy and active.
Miles Park Elementary, part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, won this year's challenge. That wasn't by accident. Physical education teacher Latrice Shields had a plan.
The students would do 50 minutes of activity in physical education class, and another 10 minutes at the end of the day. Beyond that, students kept track of their activities outside of school.
But there was a bit more strategy involved than that.
"We did the pacer test – that's a timed test, and it actually helps the kids to pace themselves and get faster and faster while they're running," she said. "That was one of the challenges that we did to help them increase their minutes."
The students were rewarded with quite a day. Hanging out with Mingo, Solomon and Browns mascot Chomps at the facility, participating in a PLAY 60 event on the practice field, and even having a milk and pizza party thanks to the American Dairy Association Mideast.
Of course, the lasting impact will come from meeting the players – and Walker came prepared.
"I had a marker sitting on the table, I was like 'who can I get an autograph from?'" he said. "So I went up to Barkevious Mingo and he said 'no problem' so he just started signing them."
Walker followed up with autographs from Chomps and one of the teachers who made it all possible, Shields.
Years ago, Shields was in Walker's place – her old physical education teacher brought in a Browns player. The impact of that visit is what drove her to help her students earn the same experience.
"I just remember shaking hands with him," Miller recalled, "and saying, 'you know what? I want to do that for someone.'"
The Browns First and Ten movement is all about giving back – and that's exactly what Miller's motivation has been ever since she heard about the Browns PLAY 60 Challenge.
"For me to be here today," she said, "to be able to give my students that same opportunity that you guys did for me 20, 30 years ago is outstanding, and I appreciate it."
About Browns PLAY 60: *
*The Browns PLAY 60 movement, contributing to the NFL's nationwide initiative to promote youth health and wellness by getting active at least 60 minutes each day, is in association with University Hospitals and American Dairy Association Mideast and Fuel Up to PLAY 60. The Browns actively bring PLAY 60 to the local community throughout the year to ensure kids and families are learning about and taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle.