Elementary and high school children were shocked when their health day celebration became a chance to meet Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Friday morning.
A video posted by the Anson County Chamber of Commerce shows Newton walking along the track at Anson High School to the cheers of the young crowd seated in the football stands. After stepping onto a small stage set on the track, he addressed the kids.
“Sit on down,” he said. “If you’re happy to be here today, say, ‘Oh, yeah!’”
The kids echoed him.
“If you’re happy for the summer, say, ‘Oh, yeah!’” he continued. “If you’re happy for the sunshine, say, ‘Oh, yeah!’”
Newton visited the dual campus of Anson High School and Anson New Technology High School as a surprise part of the 5210 League health and fitness program celebration hosted by the schools and sponsored by Carolinas HealthCare System. Children in kindergarten through sixth grade were taken to the high school, where they had the chance to participate in several activities and meet Newton.
Newton talked to the students for about 20 minutes before mingling with the children, Anson County Schools Superintendent Michael Freeman said. The children divided into three groups, with some of the field, some in the gym, and some in the cafeteria, and Newton walked around taking pictures with students and adults at the event.
“Some of the older students were volunteering,” Anne Hyatt, Freeman’s secretary, said. “He grabbed their phones and did selfies with them, and did with some adults, too.”
“We’ve been sharing 5210 with our elementary students this year and educating them on the importance of taking care of their bodies, healthy living, and so forth, so they can grow into adults with a healthy lifestyle,” Freeman said.
“He was very much encouraging our students, challenging them to make good choices and things of that nature,” Freeman continued.
The 5210 League is an initiative led by Carolinas HealthCare System which encourages families to eat healthy foods, exercise, reduce their screen time and practice other healthy habits. The Carolinas HealthCare System webpage for the program contains articles promoting healthy practices, a physician directory, information on seasonal produce and more.
On the page, children and their families can take the pledge to join the 5210 League.
Newton partnered with Carolinas HealthCare System to promote the 5210 League in 2015, according to an article, “Cam Newton teams with Carolinas HealthCare to fight childhood obesity,” from the Charlotte Observer. He made a surprise appearance at the kickoff campaign in Charlotte in 2015, as well.
“Cam Newton talked about healthy living, nutrition and so forth, motivating the kids,” Freeman said. “It was a very motivational assembly-type program.”
Freeman said the schools kept Newton’s appearance quiet before the reveal in order to surprise students and maintain security, adding that only five or six people at most knew that Newton would show up.
About 1,800 children in kindergarten through sixth grade attended the event, in addition to staff, faculty and the high school student volunteers and those Newton met when he toured the high school.
“They were just absolutely excited and appreciative,” Freeman said. “The kids were very excited, and the staff was very pleased to see Cam Newton was there, and that the event was so successful for the kids. In addition to Cam Newton, we had the Anson High School band playing, JROTC cadets doing demonstrations, the agriculture department had animals for kids to see and enjoy, and the art department had art on display. We had a lot going on for the children.”
Freeman said he was thrilled with the event.
“It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be.”
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.