Quigley and Treadwell helped host a "Fuel Up to Play 60" assembly and were met by raucous cheers from elementary students at the School of Engineering and Arts.
ROBBINSDALE, Minn. –Ryan Quigley and Laquon Treadwell both were impacted as youth by visits with professional athletes, and on Tuesday the teammates paid it forward to local young people.
Quigley and Treadwell helped host a "Fuel Up to Play 60" assembly and were met by raucous cheers from elementary students at the School of Engineering and Arts. The filled gymnasium also welcomed Vikings Youth Football Manager E.J. Henderson, former wide receiver Ryan Hoag, Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking.
"It's great to see how active and focused they are at a young age. They look like they're very energetic and very aware of being fit and being healthy," Treadwell said. "I can tell that this is a great school and that they're getting the best out of these kids. It looks like the kids are having a lot of fun here."
The 22-year-old said one of the reasons he's passionate about participating regularly in Tuesday community events is that he remembers his own childhood experiences.
Treadwell grew up in Chicago and recalled meeting Dwyane Wade, then a star guard for the Bulls, as a fifth grader.
"It was something like this, we were in the gym and he came through. I think it was the first day of his shoes release, so he passed out his new shoe that had just came out," Treadwell said. "It was amazing – I still remember that to this day. It was something that stuck with me throughout my career, just me coming into the gym and [envisioning] myself doing the things that he was doing early on in his career. It's always good to give back."
Treadwell was impressed by SEA's fifth-graders, a group of whom serve as the school's Fuel Up to Play 60 leaders. At the assembly, Henderson – with the help of Hoag, Treadwell and Quigley – led the students through a variety of football drills that they demonstrated for their younger peers.
Two fifth-graders then asked the former and current Vikings a number of questions related to nutrition and athletics. Quigley valued the opportunity to share some insight with the young fans, most of whom proudly wore purple and gold.
"This is the best part of playing in the NFL – you're given this platform, you're given these opportunities in which kids look up to you and listen to what you say," Quigley said. "I grew up in a house with two teachers, so I grew up listening to them talk, trying to lead kids in the right direction. But I remember whenever an athlete would come in, a college or a pro player, the kids' faces would light up. So just to have that opportunity was really cool, and any chance we get, we like to do it."
Quigley, who told the students his favorite sport other than football was basketball, also mentioned times that he was able to interact with NBA players.
"I remember [former point guard and current Vanderbilt Head Coach] Bryce Drew, and then also [former point guard] Steve Francis came by, and [Thunder guard] Raymond Felton, guys like that," Quigley said. "I remember that they signed something for me, left me a message, and it made a huge impact on me – I put it up on my wall, and I'd look at it and say, 'Hey, I want to be like those guys, or do something [to make] an impact like them.' "
As part of the afternoon program, the Vikings, together with the Midwest Dairy Council, presented a check for a $10,000 grant to the Robbinsdale school.
Lisa McCann, a registered dietician and program manager for the Midwest Dairy Council, said that SEA embraced the Fuel Up to Play 60 program in 2016 and "bubbled to the surface" as a candidate for this year's grant that will help the school meet a number of its health and wellness goals.
According to McCann, one of SEA's needs was to expand its food program and enable a second cafeteria line to decrease students' wait time for lunch.
"We really wanted to help with that," McCann said. "And then also, they're looking to add a Gaga [Ball] Pit or some circuit training, so they had just some goals that they wanted to accomplish, and we really wanted to support them."
"I can't tell you how much that means to us as far as buying gym equipment, playground equipment, nutritional and healthy snacks for the students," said SEA Principal Heather Hanson. "There are opportunities that they bring to schools that we wouldn't have otherwise. And [Fuel Up to Play 60] is a great program that promotes health and fitness but also gives back to our schools."
The Vikings have had a longstanding partnership with the Midwest Dairy Council, and McCann said she's grateful for the extra "sizzle" that the Vikings bring to the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
"It's great to work with them because you can see the excitement of the kids that were here today and just that energy of both past and current players," McCann said. "They're being great advocates of health and wellness and healthy lifestyles for kids. They look up to these players, so I think having them be here says a lot. We just really appreciate working with them."