THE NFL PLAY 60 campaign, which promotes childhood fitness by encouraging at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity, isn't limited to youngsters with perfect vision.
Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin visited the Overbrook School for the Blind yesterday in conjunction with Play 60. The school received a $10,000 donation for its health and wellness programs, and Maclin left a richer man for the experience.
Maclin, who leads the Eagles with 820 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions, started the visit in a packed auditorium, where he spoke and answered a few questions about his training regimen.
Then it was on to the gymnasium, where he participated in several drills with the students and watched them play a game called goalball, a three-on-three game in which the object is to roll a basketball-sized ball with bells inside over the opponent's goal line.
"These guys taught me a lot," Maclin said, referring to the "perseverance of some not having the ability to see, some not having the ability to hear, but still being able to maintain human interaction.
"I think that's something that's unexplainable, you kind of have to see it for yourself."
The school's development coordinator, Kathe Archibald, was instrumental in bringing Maclin and NFL Play 60 to Overbrook. Without her, the school wouldn't have even sent in an application to win the Play 60 contest.
"The students are big Eagles fans, so I knew that it would interest them," said Archibald, a development officer at Overbrook. "So with the two together we just thought it would be a great opportunity for our students to get involved and enter the contest for a chance to win."
To say the school was excited to learn it won is an understatement.
"I'm surprised all of Philadelphia didn't hear the cheer when we got the information out, it was amazing," said Gerald Kitzhoffer, the school's director. "A big scream went up."
On the other hand, when Maclin found out about this opportunity, he was excited for what he could learn from these students who overcome difficult obstacles on a daily basis.
"When they asked me to do it and they told me about the type of school I was coming to, at the end of the day I love working with kids," Maclin said. "This is something neat, and something you don't get to experience every day . . . Obviously a lot of these kids are visually impaired and I learned a lot."
While watching his students participate in the drills, Kitzhoffer said: "I hope it gives him some appreciation of the abilities of blind and visually impaired kids.
"I guess maybe there's an assumption with athletes that you have to be perfect, everything has to be 100 percent function. We are really now maximizing the ability of our kids despite whatever disabilities they might have."
Overall, Kitzhoffer felt that Maclin's visit to his school was nothing but positive for his students.
"It's just the greatest thing," he said. "It's our kids meeting somebody famous and being able to recognize that sports and their activities that we do are important, and Jeremy came and verified that." *