K.C. Wolf Helps Kick Off Exercise, Nutrition Program

Dec. 4, 2012 ~ Heritage Elementary School students learned that playing K.C. Wolf, the mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, isn't all fun and games. It takes a lot of energy to run around in the costume.

Dan Meers, who portrays K.C. Wolf, helped kick off Heritage's Fuel Up to Play 60 exercise and nutrition program to make sure students don't end up with a thick middle like the mascot. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program started by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League. The goal is for children to get 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

"I am for any programs that advocate for physical activity and healthy nutrition," said district physical education / health coordinator Brad Bingesser.  He said at least seven other Olathe elementary schools are participating in Fuel Up to Play 60.

Out of costume, Meers asked Heritage students to brainstorm about ways to get exercise: basketball, hoola-hooping, jumping on a trampoline, etc. They also talked about the major food groups and the role calcium plays in building strong bones.

Physical education teacher Derrell Kilber and school nurse Joy Wray will work with registered dietitian Erin Laurie, a Fuel Up to Play 60 coach, to implement the program. A team of student ambassadors helped with a wellness investigation and will become more involved after semester break.

The student ambassadors will help pick out a healthy eating "play" and a physical activity "play" and promote it throughout the student body to help raise some of the lower scores from the wellness investigation. Laurie provides them with a "playbook" of ideas "but they can be creative and add their own flavor to each play as well," she said.

A physical activity scavenger hunt, online logging of physical activity and food intake, and various online challenges are planned.

"The uniqueness of this program is that it really should be student led with the program advisors and school coach advising and assisting," Laurie said.

K.C. Wolf met some of the student ambassadors who will help promote the Fuel Up to Play 60 program at Heritage Elementary School. K.C. Wolf and student ambassadors
K.C. Wolf joked with students before the Fuel Up to Play 60 assembly started. Out of costume, the man who plays K.C. Wolf got serious about exercise and nutrition. K.C. Wolf jokes with students
Dan Meers, who portrays K.C. Wolf at hundreds of events each year, talked with students about how important exercise is in helping him stay in shape to play the mascot. He said it takes a lot of energy to wear the 35-pound costume and run around the football field as K.C. Wolf. Dan Meers portrays K.C. Wolf

Meers helped a fifth-grade volunteer get into the K.C. Wolf costume. The gray body suit has hoops in it to give the mascot an 85-inch waist. The size 22 shoes have a pair of Meers’ own tennis shoes inside them, and give him an additional few inches of height to reach 7 feet, 2 inches. The wolf head stays securely on Meers with the help of a helmet inside, and four straps that connect it to the gray body suit.

Photos by Marlene Colgan
Getting into costume