KSU QB Collin Klein stops by Bergman School to tout exercise program and get a surprise honor

By Bryan Richardson

K-State quarterback Collin Klein survived the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday. But could he make it past the Bergman Elementary Dolphins?

Klein, accompanied by offensive linemen BJ Finney and Drew Liddle, made a surprise visit to the school Tuesday morning. Like so many teams have tried to do, the kids ran toward Klein and started to jump on him.

Unlike the other teams, Bergman’s kids were just excited to see him. “There’s no sacking the quarterback at Bergman Elementary,” principal Lori Martin said.

Klein said he tries to come out to schools when the schedule allows, which is difficult during the season. “I’m glad I’ve been able to help people out and be a blessing,” he said.

The visit was a part of the KidZercise program that was started at Bergman this school year through a grant from RSVP of Flint Hills. The goal is to provide an outlet for students who have trouble focusing in the classroom.

The program runs about 45 minutes to an hour before school Monday through Thursday with kindergarten through second grade students and third grade through sixth grade students alternating days.

Ashley Kenney, the school’s wellness program coordinator, said the goal is to utilize exercise as a healthful alternative to medication. “My goal is to get some extra energy out before they go in the classroom,” she said.

The program has conducted initial behavior evaluations for the teachers who educate the 40 participating students. KidZercise workers said the overall impact has been felt as most students are more attentive in class.

Kenney said she has been reaching out to the K-State athletics program to bring student-athletes to the school. She said it helps provide a good example of what focus can do.

Many KSU athletes from various sports have participated, but Tuesday was Klein’s first time at the KidZercise program. As an alternative to the typical structure, all the program’s kids spent some time during class with Klein, Liddle and Finney.

The kids ran a relay, zigzagging through cones to get a chance to catch a pass from KSU football players including the Heisman Trophy hopeful.

Martin attempted to ask Klein why he selected the number for his jersey – it was his dad’s number – but found it hard to get his attention.

Klein was preoccupied with the task of throwing passes to the kids. “I’m focused, man,” Klein said.

Tuesday’s visit also had a surprise for Klein as he received a trophy for his community service work. He was recently named to the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

Out of 117 nominees, Klein is one of 22 players being honored. He’s the second K-State football player to receive the award in its 21-year history.

After Klein talked to the entire school about the six pillars of character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship – he was surprised with a presentation of the award by local Allstate agent Brian Green.

Green said Klein received the award for his various activities in the Manhattan community such as work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, local reading program, Christmas food program and the Special Olympics.

It was an exciting morning for the Bergman community, not just the kids in the KidZercise program.

Alexis Tull, second grade, admitted she didn’t know much about Klein’s and K-State’s big season. “I’ve been really busy, so I don’t get to watch that much football,” she said.

Gabriel Barrett, second grade, has seen a lot of football. “He’s a famous football player,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve seen him play on TV.”

Klein is his favorite player, and Barrett said Klein can do one thing better than other players. “He’s a good touchdown player,” he said. “Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown.”

The feeling of joy was mutual. Klein called it a tremendous honor and responsibility to be a role model for the children. “This has made my day seeing the joy, energy, and passion on your faces, and the good work that you guys are doing,” he told the children during the assembly.

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