FORT RILEY, Kan. – The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley welcomed the Kansas City Chiefs organization representatives, team mascot KC Wolf, cheerleaders Mariah and Gracie, and Manhattan native and Hall of Famer Gary Spani to Fort Riley, Kansas, Nov. 4, 2022.
The visit began with members from the Kansas City Chiefs setting up a mobile training center in the Fort Riley Middle School parking lot. Andrew Smitka, the manager of youth outreach for the marketing department, coordinated the Chiefs' mobile training lab during the visit. Students and faculty were able to enter the training center and engage with the virtual booths. The booths are designed to teach them about health and wellness, and what it's like to be a Chiefs player.
"It means a lot to be able to come out to Fort Riley and local military bases and give back,” Smitka said. “What the Families in the military do for us is amazing and we are happy to be able to be here today and share these moments with them.”
The team representatives were working alongside the 1st Inf. Div. as they visited several schools on post. They met with students to give them a little insight into the life of a pro athlete and a little into the team's organization. The students and faculty got to take photos and high-five KC Wolf and members of the cheerleading squad during the visit. The principals of the schools were also presented with flag football kits to assist in providing the students with an introduction to the sport of football by providing them with the equipment needed to support a team.
"I've been with the Chiefs since playing [in the league],'' said Spani. “These kinds of events are the most special, coming in and taking part, doing these things with the community is great."
Spani was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1978–1986. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2003.
"Making the drive from Kansas City back down to this area reminds me of home, I've made the drive so many times over the years. I went to Manhattan High and then K-State, and now my daughter goes to K-State. So, being here feels like being home, and I am so excited to be able to be here and do these events with the Soldiers and Families of Fort Riley."
Following the visits to all of the Fort Riley schools, the Chief’s representatives continued the day by touring the installation and witnessing daily Army operations first hand. The tour consisted of witnessing a promotion ceremony, observing a gunnery range held by 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, touring the 1st combat aviation brigade aircraft hangers, and visiting the first infantry division mounted color guard—one of the six remaining horse detachments in the Army.
“It’s always great to bring in outside people to let them see what we do here,” said Staff Sgt. Dylan Lopez, a trooper assigned to the CGMCG. “The color guard and the 1st Inf. Div. have long and proud history, and being able to share that history with the Chiefs only helps to build our establishing partnership.”
Representatives were able to brand pieces of leather with the “U.S.” insignia as a parting keepsake to tangibly demonstrate the growing relationship between the Chiefs and the division.