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Ravens encourage child’s play at annual TEAM Challenge

Players, students have a day of fun at M&T Bank Stadium

Turron Davenport | 10/24/2014, 6 a.m.
The Baltimore Ravens held their third annual Ravens TEAM Challenge at M&T bank Stadium on Monday, October 20, 2014.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil and Liberty Elementary School principal Joseph Menko gathered in a celabratory huddle with the students at the Ravens TEAM Challenge at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday, October 20, 2014. Turron Davenport

The Baltimore Ravens held their third annual Ravens TEAM Challenge at M&T bank Stadium on Monday, October 20, 2014. This event was a part of the 2014 NFL & United Way Hometown Huddle program. Selected students from Liberty Elementary School participated in challenges such as kickball, relay races and ultimate football under the guidance of Playworks Baltimore.

Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam with his team of kids at the Ravens Annual Team Challenge at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday, October 20, 2014. Selected students from Liberty Elementary School participated in challenges including: kickball, relay races and ultimate football under the guidance of Playworks Baltimore. The Ravens community-relations team spearheaded by Community Relations Manager Emily Scerba facilitated the activities during the event.

Turron Davenport

Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam with his team of kids at the Ravens Annual Team Challenge at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday, October 20, 2014. Selected students from Liberty Elementary School participated in challenges including: kickball, relay races and ultimate football under the guidance of Playworks Baltimore. The Ravens community-relations team spearheaded by Community Relations Manager Emily Scerba facilitated the activities during the event.

Each student also received a new pair of sneakers provided by Under Armour. There were approximately 120 children at the event. The Hometown Huddle is an NFL initiative that includes a day of hands on activity that is celebrated by all 32 NFL teams across the country. The Ravens TEAM Challenge focuses on three values: fitness, sportsmanship and academics.

Liberty principal Joseph Menko took off his suit jacket and played ultimate football with his students. He had a great time. “This is an amazing day. It’s so great and wonderful seeing all of the players out here and the support from the Ravens. This is a day that they’ll never forget.” He continues “It’s super important for our kids. It teaches them the importance of play, learning from play…teamwork, responsibilities, sportsmanship and all of that stuff. These are critical life skills that are really important for our kids.” Menko said.

Ravens players at the event included: Wide Receiver Marlon Brown; Wide Receiver Steve Smith Sr.; Tight End Crockett Gilmore; Quarterback Tyrod Taylor; DT Brandon Williams, OLB Elvis Dumervil, S Matt Elam, S Anthony Levine and CB Lardarius Webb. Ravens cheerleaders and the mascot Poe were also at the event along with volunteers from the Lady Ravens Association, M&T Bank, Under Armour and the United Way. The Ravens community-relations team spearheaded by Community Relations Manager Emily Scerba facilitated the activities.

The event was a lot of fun for the players. They were willing to give their time to the community the day after their 29-7 trouncing of the Atlanta Falcons. The players did more than just watch the children. They literally played with the kids that were there.

The importance of giving back to the community wasn’t lost on safety Matt Elam.

“I feel like it’s first priority, giving back and having fun with the kids. I didn’t have this opportunity when I was growing up. That’s why I take pride in this.” Elam said. “I take advantage of this opportunity to give the kids something that I didn’t have.”

Crockett Gilmore felt that it was just as important to play with the kids and plans on making a habit of doing these events. His team won the Team Challenge.

“I enjoy being around kids. It’s more of a pleasure for me to get out and have fun with these kids. They actually don’t know what it means to me. I hope they look forward to this next year because I plan on coming back and doing this again.” Gilmore said.

Children always draw inspiration from getting to interact with their heroes. Elvis Dumervil said he drew inspiration from the students.

“It is great being out here with the kids and trying to give back. My knees and ankle hurts a little bit from the game yesterday but it is cool having all of this energy from the kids and having them uplifts you to fight through it.” Dumervil said, “I wish I had the opportunity to do this when I was a kid. It’s a great experience and to be a part of this is good.”

Then there is Steve Smith Sr. who seemed to have more fun than the young people. His passion was evident as he took full part in ultimate football and kickball. He was just as energetic as the kids were. “It’s always great when you get to be out here and do this, having fun with them. We get to sweat and laugh and just play with them, it’s fantastic” he said.