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Aug. 2, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Last week, student-athletes from the men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams had the opportunity to give back to Ohio’s military families while playing the sports they love. Held July 28 at Ohio State’s various athletic facilities, Operation: Military Kids Hero Camp paired Buckeyes with children ages 5-12 for a fun-filled day of fitness.

Sponsored by the Ohio State Department of Athletics, Ohio State University Extension, its Ohio 4-H program and the Ohio National Guard, the camp was designed for children affected by a parent’s deployment to learn about making healthy choices.

“We wanted to do a program that was more focused on fitness, wellness and healthy habits,” Erin Berry, the youth program specialist of Operation Military Kids, said. “We’re trying to teach the kids that having those healthy habits will help them reduce stress in their life as they go through their parent’s deployment or even having them go away once a month.”

Coached by the student-athlete volunteers, the campers learned the fundamentals of soccer, lacrosse and track while their parents attended a STRONG Family Workshop session which covered topics such as nutrition and emotional and physical health.

“The department has done a lot of partnering with the National Guard at games and with having them come to games as fans,” Ohio State director of camps and clinics Mark Wilson said. “This was a chance to extend that and use our skills to help them.”

 “We got to see student-athletes in a way you don’t always see them when they’re practicing or competing and you see some of that spirit that they have as athletes with kids who want to be athletes. It’s fun. For me, it’s one of the best parts of the job.”   

After enjoying a healthy lunch provided by Sodexo and presentations by Ohio State head wrestling coach Tom Ryan, Ohio National Guard COL. John Harris and Miss Ohio 2011 Ellen Bryan, the day concluded with campers heading to Ohio Stadium for the rare opportunity to play games on the field.

For more information on Operation Military Kids, visit: www.operationmilitarykids.org