Butler gets a surprise!
It wasn’t a regular Thursday for the students of Butler Elementary’s YMCA after-school program last week. “These are the luckiest kids in our program,” said Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA president and CEO Eric Tucker.
Why? Well, that’s because they found themselves face-to-face with real-life superheroes – professional wrestlers and athletes who are champions not only of their sport but also of education. The event, held in partnership with the YMCA, the Big 12 Conference and Arlington ISD, unfolded as a dynamic collaboration aimed at inspiring the next generation of scholars. WWE wrestling superstars Raquel Rodriguez, Ricochet and Big 12 athletes took center stage, transforming the campus into a realm of excitement, positivity and fun.
“To come together and do something big for the children is always something cool,” Ricochet said. “Giving them something to get excited about, something to be happy about and something to smile about is always a good feeling.”
There was no better way to create memorable experiences than by signing belts and building connections with fans beyond the ring.
“This is what makes our jobs so special, the fans and especially the kids,” Rodriguez said. “Seeing their faces light up, giving them high fives, giving them hugs and seeing that they are fans, it’s heartwarming and it’s humbling, too.”
Beyond the adrenaline-pumping activities and energetic atmosphere, athletes from every Big 12 school had a deeper mission – to share their personal journeys as scholars and advocates for education.
“They talk about the athleticism, they talk about the teamwork that comes with this and the communication their teams utilize,” Tucker said.
Promoting a healthy understanding of college at an early age is one of the main keys to academic success. “It’s critically important for us to engage in the community,” said Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark. “This is indicative of the type of partnership we want to have.”
From ‘bean bag spin,’ hula hoop competitions, karaoke and many other interactive opportunities, the athletes did exactly that.
“It feels really exciting and fun,” said third grader Claire Boelter. “It’s different than what we normally get to do.”
With over 60 kids in the program at Butler, YMCA senior program director Bailey Martin felt the same way.
“This is the first of any kind of event we’ve done like this,” Martin said. “Being able to have an opportunity like this where all the kids are on the same page with how excited they are to have something specifically for them, it’s amazing. It’s not something that we have ever experienced before.”
YMCA has been serving Arlington ISD since the 1980s. As an event first of its kind, it’s safe to say these kiddos were certainly reminded to always follow their dreams.
And that’s the Y of it all! View more pictures of the event here.