Many students and faculty members at Waverly Park Elementary School donned football jerseys and shirts representing their favorite sports teams as three-time NFL Pro Bowler and former Jets fullback Tony Richardson visited the school to address the students.
Richardson, who is a friend of Principal Allison Banhazl, came to the facility’s gym on Oct. 26 as part of Health and Wellness Week at the school. Richardson spoke with students about making healthy choices for the mind and body, including eating healthy and being active. Superintendent Dr. Melissa Burak and Board of Education President William Belmont were also in attendance for the event.
Richardson played in the NFL from 1994 through 2010, making stops with the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and Jets. He spoke of the National Football League’s Play 60 program, which encourages young people to get outside and be active, rather than playing video games like Fortnite.
“I like to get up and be active,” Richardson said, receiving a raucous reaction when he asked students if they like to be active. “We like to encourage our young people to be active 60 minutes per day.”
He told the students how he and his dog, Rambo, run two miles every day. He noted that he adopted Rambo after he was intentionally run over by a car and lost a leg. He said the person who ran over Rambo was a bully and told the students that they shouldn’t be bullies. He said just because Rambo looks different now, it doesn’t mean he deserves to be bullied.
“Even if you have a student in your class that doesn’t look like you, you shouldn’t pick on them,” Richardson said. “ … If you see somebody who gets bullied, go tell somebody. Tell your parents, tell your teachers, because that’s not nice.”
Richardson also talked about his playing career and his personal life, which included growing up in Germany, changing schools frequently and being part of a military family.
At the end of the event, Banhazl organized a trivia game with the students, who answered questions about health and wellness topics that were covered during the week. Students who answered correctly received a signed football from Richardson.