"The winning boy and girl from each installation will be in the tunnel with their parents when the team runs out," said JBA Director of Youth Programs Vincent Eure.
Players, cheerleaders and Redskins Executive Vice President and General Manager Bruce Allen served as "celebrity trainers," putting 500 military children from across the National Capital Region through a mini-combine including agility ladders, relay races, throwing and catching drills and a timed, 40-yard dash. Co-sponsor the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association provided nutrition information and a milk toast led by 2013 Maryland Dairy Princess Carol DeBaugh of Boonesboro, Md.
"It's a good event, to be on the Air Force base. It's an off day, and I'm happy to be here doing community service. A lot of the kids have parents overseas, fighting the war, and just to make them happy, see them smile even for a moment makes it worthwhile, said running back Alfred Morris before taking the field to lead his assigned group of children through on-field exercises.
Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation spokesman Tony Wyllie said that this was the organization's first ever "Salute to Play 60" kickoff to be held on a military installation.
"It's great that it's close to our stadium, and having all four branches of the military here. What better kids to do it, than with military kids? We asked players with a military tie to come on their day off and they're happy to do it," said Wyllie. "But there's a girl here in a Cowboys shirt. Really? I mean...really?"
Fullback Darrel Young spoke of his reasons for participating in the kick-off.
"My brother has been enlisted for 15 years, and served five tours overseas in Afghanistan, so the military is special to me," Young said.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III clearly saw himself in the military children on the field, saying, "My Dad was active duty for 21 years, and my mom for 13, so I was a military brat," to cheers from children, parents and leadership from the region's military installations. "And we're gonna get that win for y'all against Oakland!"
With the Redskins record this season a lackluster 0 and 3, Executive Director and General Manager Bruce Allen said that the "Salute to Play 60 Military Challenge" kick-off benefits more than just the young people who will be pushing themselves physically for the next four weeks.
"This is great for our players. We needed something fun. It's better than standing around pouting and moping," Allen said. "I think we have some great ideas. Beyond winning football games--which we haven't done--our goal and our job is to inspire the kids, and we will do it."
Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, presented donations from the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation to contribute to funding youth programs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in the region. Each branch of service received a donation of $5,000.
"The donation is for the services (as a whole), but hopefully since we're the only Air Force base in the region that money will come back to Joint Base Andrews," said Eure.
11th Wing Commander Col. Bill Knight praised the Redskins for their service to the community.
"The Redskins are very good to us. We're glad they're here. Wouldn't have it any other way," said Knight, who went on to explain that as parents he and his wife have "always required some kind of physical activity in their lives," such as participating on a sports team or studying dance. Military children, he explained, often rely on more structured sports programs and physical education classes because, with frequent moves, they are not always sure to be living in an area with a large group of playmates nearby.
"Sometimes they live in a neighborhood where there's lots of play, and sometimes they live in a neighborhood where there aren't any kids," Kinght said.
For the Redskins, it was a day to give back to families who serve.
"Our players, when they were your age, dedicated themselves to training and going to school. You look at them as heroes," said Allen. "Our players look at your parents as heroes, for serving our country."
To see some short video clips from the "Salute to Play 60 Military Challenge Kick-Off," visit www.dcmilitary.com.