Not even the rain brought on by the storm clouds could dampen the mood at the Fairmont City Library Center. On Tuesday, four members of the St. Louis Rams helped celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by joining a group of kids for an afternoon of PLAY 60 activities and Latin dance performances.
The Rams are familiar with Fairmont City, and especially the Library Center. In June, the team built the community’s first playground right outside of the building. Due to its significant Hispanic influence – nearly 66 percent of the population is Hispanic – Fairmont City was also the perfect place to honor the culture. In attendance were linebacker
While the players might have been there to lead kids through various activities, they had no problem sitting back and getting an education of their own.
After the program began with a stretching session led by the Rams, students from the Kreitner dance troupe put on a performance for the rest of the audience. According to their instructor, these kids volunteer their lunch recess in order to learn salsa dancing. After the kids ran – or better yet, danced through their routine, it was the players’ turn to put on their dancing shoes.
“The players were great,” children’s librarian Alison Donnelly said. “It’s one thing to talk about serving your community, but these guys actually do it. And I loved how they were not afraid of looking silly in the name of fun.”
The special interaction was not lost on Donnelly.
“To see the kids laughing and the players joining in (on the dancing) was very special,” she said. “Most of these kids have never even had the opportunity to go to a Rams game, but they admire the players so much, and it was great to see the players enjoying working with them.”
From there, the kids broke off into three groups to take part in a rotation of drills and games. At the first station, kids got a dose of football training. They jumped over mini hurdles and tackled a practice dummy before capping the drill by catching passes from McIntosh and Pointer.
Pead took the lead at station two, organizing relay races. The kids carried a football from one end to the other, in a shuttle run-style sprint.
At the final station, the children switched from football skills to futbol skills. Keeping with the theme of Hispanic culture, Johnson headed the goal-shooting station. With Rams mascot Rampage in goal, the kids took turns lining up for kicks. The first few rounds went to the participants as they seemed to score goal after goal. But Rampage settled in and proved capable between the cones.
To cap off the event, the four players signed autographs and posed for pictures with all those who either participated or stopped by to be a part of the festivities. In addition, the team also donated game tickets to the families in attendance.
“The community is still abuzz with excitement, and will be for a long time,” Donnelly said. “In an area where the socio-economic statistics speak for themselves, events like this are truly inspirational and they give kids a reason to believe in themselves and strive for their own excellence.”
Just as the final fans and families dispersed from the event, the heavy storm clouds rolled in and the skies opened up. But for those who made it out to the Fairmont City Library Center with the Rams, the day was a bright one.
“The kids had a day they will be talking about for a very long time,” Donnelly said. “And we are so incredibly grateful to everyone who made the day possible.”