Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
Photography: MARLENE QUARONI | FC
MIAMI GARDENS | The theme from the movie “Rocky” filled St. Thomas University’s Fernandez Family Center as representatives from 100 Miami-Dade public and private schools entered the center’s gymnasium. The gym was filled with boxes loaded with donated, lightly-used and new sports equipment, books, games, and bags.
“We welcome the recipients of these items with inspirational music because we want to make it clear that they are heroes,” said Susan Groh, associate director of NFL Green, the league’s environmental program. “We appreciate that they are here to get needed items, not for themselves but for the kids they teach.”
Along with NFL Green, the NFL’s wireless sponsor, Verizon, and the Miami Super Bowl LIV Host Committee led the Super Kids-Super Sharing event that has been implemented in every Super Bowl host community since 2000. It started in Atlanta with three schools donating 200 items to the Boys and Girls Club and has gotten bigger every year.
Super Kids-Super Sharing unites donor schools with schools in low-income neighborhoods. 25,000 items were collected at the Jan. 16 event, which included a ceremony where NFL Green and Verizon donated a $100,000 check to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The grant will support a first-in-the-nation initiative to fund food forests for schools in South Florida.
“This model takes STEM learning out of textbooks and classrooms and turns school grounds into Eco-Labs that provide hands-on learning and dramatically increase students’ science scores,” said Jim Groh, NFL Green director. “I’m super inspired by what you’re doing today.”
He then asked those at the event to raise their right hands and pledge to be environmentally friendly.
In honor of the NFL’s 100th season, Verizon also will plant 10,000 trees (100 for each of the NFL’s 100 years) in Florida’s Econfina River State Park, and 100,000 in Madagascar, to restore ecologically-devastated mangrove estuaries and forests and revive natural habitats for endangered animal species.
The donor schools for Super Kids-Super Sharing included several Catholic elementary and high schools, among them Immaculata-La Salle High in Miami, which donated over 1,200 items for the event.
Stephanie Murphy, St. Jerome School principal, and Rafael Villalobos, athletic director, were among the recipients of that generosity. The two collected needed sports and school items for the southeast Fort Lauderdale elementary. The 200-student school has a limited budget and was thankful for the opportunity to receive the needed items.
After Dillard High School’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble entertained participants, they received a surprise from STU president David Armstrong: a $5,000 scholarship for each ensemble member.
“You are doing God’s work when you donate,” he said. “We teach values at STU. Everyone here today has an attitude of gratitude.”
Jason Jenkins, Miami Dolphins senior vice president of Communications and Community Affairs, said the Super Bowl is not all about glitz and glamour.
“Giving is so fundamentally important in life,” he said. “Kids are going to benefit. It’s not about one day. Our goal is football unites.”
Following the ceremony, participating students went out to the STU soccer field where STU sports staff and Dolphin trainers set up Dolphin training equipment and taught students some fundamentals of football.
Maria Fernandez, St. Timothy School assistant principal, brought her undefeated Archdiocese of Miami All Catholic Conference boys basketball team to the event.
“The kids were very excited to help other kids in the community and to participate in a Super Bowl event,” she said.
Alejandro Quevedo, 18, from Christopher Columbus High in Miami, another donor school, said that his school is all about giving back to the community.
“It’s inspiring to see some of our equipment going to those who can’t afford these items,” he said.
Patricia Hernandez, principal of another donor school, St. Agatha, said she loved the event.
“It instills values in the kids,” she said. “I love the aspect of kids giving to kids. I am touched to see that others in need receive these items. We are blessed. We have a lot to share.”