On Tuesday, tight end Dustin Keller appeared at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn to spend an afternoon with student-athletes and speak about the importance of nutrition. Through the New York City Department of Education's SchoolFood program, Keller and schools chancellor Dennis Walcott also announced a special sweepstakes that will reward one student who applies for free or reduced school lunch with a trip to the Pro Bowl.
"We want to make sure every eligible family submits a meals application for free or reduced-price lunch, which can save them more than $250 a year," said Walcott. "The meals application will help families ensure their children get a nutritious lunch at little or no cost."
Applications that are processed by Oct. 21 will be eligible to win several prizes, with the grand prize the trip to Hawaii to see the Pro Bowl, courtesy of the New York Jets. It is the seventh time the Jets have donated the Pro Bowl experience.
"When you look at the Jets as an organization," said Eric Goldstein, chief executive of the NYC Department of Education office of support services, "not only do they know how to play football and win, they know how to be good neighbors, they know how to be civic-minded, and they know how to look after the community."
After making the announcement, Keller spoke to the Fort Hamilton Tigers varsity football and cheerleading squads about the importance of nutrition and his path to the NFL. Afterwards, he candidly answered several questions from the students, ranging from his favorite pro memory to how much he bench-presses.
"This is a fun thing to do, coming out here to spend time with these guys," said Keller. "As an NFL player, you've got to give back to your community. It's kind of our responsibility."
Fort Hamilton comprises 4,500 students and boasts the 2010-11 PSAL-champion football team. Undefeated since 2007, the Tigers were all ears when Keller spoke.
"Being that he's a big-time football player, for him to come down and talk to us as football players about nutrition, it's great," said Travon Reid, a junior WR and S.
Jo Ann Chester, the principal of Fort Hamilton High, was happy to welcome Keller into her school.
"He's a role model for the students, a role model for the school," said Chester. "I think his talk was very inspirational, not only with respect to nutrition but also to their general well-being and making the transition from adolescence to adulthood."
Keller spoke to the students about his poor nutritional habits while in high school, and how he needed to completely change the way he approached his meals once he entered college at Purdue. After Boilermakers head coach Joe Tiller decided to transition Keller from WR to TE, he pointed at the 250-pound marker on the scale and told him to "get there."
Today, Keller remains at 250 pounds and has the help of the Jets' strength and conditioning staff to make sure all 250 of those pounds are healthy ones.
"We have a great nutritionist in Wendy Sterling, so I definitely go to her for a lot of advice," he said. "Diet is just so important, from weightlifting and putting on bulk to maintaining it during the season just to stay healthy. She's been a great help for our entire team."