FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers visited Fort Bragg for a special coaching session with the installation's youngsters in honor of military appreciation month. Through a day of playing sports with the team, almost 150 Bowley Elementary students experienced what it's like to work in the National Football League.
"It's good to come out here, show them what we actually do so they get a little experience of what it feels like to be in the NFL with the drills we go through on a daily basis," said jersey number 98, Marquis Haynes, an outside linebacker for the Carolina Panthers.
Students were inspired by the Play 60 campaign as they exercised for 60 minutes and supported living healthy lives. The children claimed they were truly understanding the lesson.
"Everyone's always saying if you start habits young, you'll keep the habits as you get older,” said fifth grader, Bowley Elementary student, Amara Robinson. “So, I think it's important to start being active now so that we'll stay active and fit, and things won't be as hard for us as we get older."
To give back to the community, the Keep Pounding Day sporting event was brought to Hedrick Stadium by the United Service Organizations of North Carolina. This annual event disperses current players, coaches, Panther icons, and staff members around the Carolinas.
"How often do you get to meet a pro player?" said Brian Knight, a manager of the Sandhills Area Senior Center for the USO. "Even if these kids don't know who they are yet, at some point they will and will be like, 'hey, I remember I met that player back in the day.' And then just the experience they're having with their classmates. They're going to go back, and they'll be talking about this for a long time."
The Carolina Panthers got the opportunity to present a check for over $5,000 to the USO of North Carolina as a thank you for the support and service they provide to service members and their Families during the Keep Pounding Day 2023 event.
"Really what we're hoping to accomplish today first is letting the service members and the folks here on base understand the gratitude that we have for their service to our country,” said Riley Fields, the director of community relations for the Carolina Panthers. “It never is taken for granted, so it's an opportunity for us to reinforce that."