By Teresa Varley
It was back to school for wide receiver Hines Ward when he was the special guest of Drew Cambal, a third grader at Stewart Elementary School, as a part of the "NFL's Take a Player to School" program presented by JCPenney Afterschool Program.
Ward went to Cambal's Lower Burrell home first thing in the morning and visited with him and his sister Courtney and signed some autographs before heading off to school in a limo with both of them.
"It's an opportunity for me to meet and greet a new friend in my life and for Drew and his sister to cherish this day for a long time," said Ward. "Not many kids get an opportunity to take their favorite player to school. In the Pittsburgh community we are a close knit family. Any time I have the opportunity to have fun with kids I jump to it. I am in the first one in line to go out and have fun with the kids."
And at times it was hard to tell who was having more fun, Ward or the kids.
"I have been doing this for several years now," said Ward. "To get an opportunity to see the kids faces light up is great. I wish I would have had the opportunity to take my favorite player to school."
Ward's day at school included a visit to the principal's office, visiting Cambal's classroom and addressing the school at an assembly where he talked about the importance of being active.
The fun-loving Ward also got the kids moving doing a series of four exercises, as he encouraged them to be active as a part of the NFL's Play 60 campaign, which helps kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day.
"It encourages kids to go out and play for an hour – to get off the video games and go outside and enjoy being a kid," said Ward. "I was very competitive as a kid. I played hop scotch with the best of them. I like to encourage kids to go out and participate and play for an hour a day. That's the reason we are here."
The JCPenney Afterschool Program is a non-profit organization committed to providing America's children with access to high-quality after school programs and raising awareness around the need for more programs that keep kids safely and constructively engaged during after school hours.