To help keep athletes safe and performing at their best during the hot summer months, The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo, has once again joined forces with the NFL to educate athletes, parents and coaches about heat-related illness and the importance of proper hydration and nutrition before, during and after practices and games.
As part of the 2010 Beat the Heat program, NFL players and coaches and their families will lead hydration awareness efforts and help raise funds for two organizations dedicated to preventing heat-related illnesses — the Korey Stringer Institute and the Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation.
"What athletes, parents and coaches need to know is that heat-related illnesses are largely preventable," said Douglas Casa, Ph.D., chief operating officer of KSI, which is housed at the University of Connecticut. "The Beat the Heat program aims to raise awareness about this issue and provide educational resources to optimize the prevention, recognition, and treatment of heat-related illness during the summer practice season."
The ongoing team effort between Gatorade and the NFL and their designated charities is built on communicating heat-illness prevention and treatment techniques. The organizations have collaborated to create and distribute the Gatorade Heat Safety Kit, an educational resource for athletes, parents and coaches that can be downloaded at no cost from the league's official Web site. For every unique download of the Gatorade Heat Safety Kit, Gatorade will donate $1, up to $20,000, to Beat the Heat charities.
The Korey Stringer Institute is named for the late Korey Stringer, who died of complications after an exertional heat stroke that occurred during football practice. The institute, created with the support of the NFL and Gatorade, is the result of a collaboration between Casa, a noted exertional heat stroke expert, and Korey's widow, Kelci Stringer. The Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation was founded by Mike and Rhonda Fincher in memory of their son Kendrick, an Arkansas teenage football player who succumbed to complications from heat stroke during the summer of 1995.
"The Beat the Heat program unites a number of outstanding organizations whose goal is to reduce the number of heat-related injuries by engaging parents, coaches and players," said Jennifer Storms, vice president of sports and event marketing for Gatorade. "Our shared commitment is a great way to educate on how to prevent heat related tragedies nationwide."
Research conducted by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute found that as many as 70 percent of high school football players could show up for practice inadequately hydrated. The recommendation of drinking fluids prior to practice increased the number of players appearing to be adequately hydrated upon arrival at practice. Scientific research has shown that dehydration or poor hydration increases the risk for heat illness.
"Heat-related illnesses need to be taken seriously at all levels," said Pepper Burruss, head athletic trainer for the Green Bay Packers. "Dangers caused by overexposure to high temperature and humidity are preventable if coaches and players know the early warning signs and athletes stay cool and hydrated. Simple steps like allowing for acclimatization to temperatures, adjusting the intensity of practice to environmental conditions and keeping the right types of fluids accessible, such as properly formulated sports drinks like Gatorade, can help athletes stay safe on the field and performing at their best."
The Gatorade Heat Safety Kit includes educational resources from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, as well as an explanation about the "4 Downs" of Heat Safety — Prevent, Prepare, Proper Hydration, Plan — which athletes, parents and coaches should consider before engaging in practice or other strenuous physical activity in hot weather.
The Gatorade Heat Safety Kit will be available for download at no cost at www.nfl.com/trainingcamp. And for more information on heat illness prevention, please visit www.nfl.com, http://ksi.uconn.edu/, www.kendrickfincher.org or www.gatorade.com.
The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), provides sports performance innovations designed to meet the needs of athletes at all competitive levels and across a broad range of sports. Gatorade Thirst Quencher® is backed by more than 40 years of research and is scientifically formulated and athletically proven to quench thirst, replace fluids and electrolytes, and provide carbohydrate energy to enhance athletic performance. The company's product portfolio is built around the G Series™, a 1-2-3 approach to athlete nutrition and hydration before (Gatorade Prime 01™), during (Gatorade® Perform 02 and G2® Perform 02), and after (Gatorade Recover 03™) training or competition. For more information, please visit www.gatorade.com.
PepsiCo offers the world's largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines that each generates more than $1 billion in annual retail sales. Our main businesses - Frito-Lay, Quaker, Pepsi-Cola, Tropicana and Gatorade - also make hundreds of other nourishing, tasty foods and drinks that bring joy to our consumers in more than 200 countries. With annualized revenues of nearly $60 billion, PepsiCo's people are united by our unique commitment to sustainable growth, called Performance with Purpose. By dedicating ourselves to offering a broad array of choices for healthy, convenient and fun nourishment, reducing our environmental impact, and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture, PepsiCo balances strong financial returns with giving back to our communities worldwide. In recognition of its continued sustainability efforts, PepsiCo was named for the third time to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World) and for the fourth time to the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index (DJSI North America) in 2009. For more information, please visit www.pepsico.com.