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Dolphins Players Treat Deserving Kids To Fun At Action Town

Posted May 29, 2013

Students from Miami-Dade kick start summer vacation in style.




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HIALEAH – There is no better way to unwind at the end of the school year than to spend a couple of hours at interactive arcade – with Miami Dolphins players no less.

Action Town in Hialeah opened its doors Tuesday afternoon to 60 kids from the Benjamin Franklin K-8 Center in Miami-Dade and 14 Miami Dolphins Players for some fun and games. There was indoor basketball, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf and Laser Tag inside the “Area 51” Laser Tag facility and it was hard to determine who was having more fun, the kids or the players.

“I feel like I was just a little kid not too long ago,” said Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, who grew up minutes from Sun Life Stadium and actually attended the team’s youth football camp. “This is fun being able to play mini-golf and other games with the kids and show them a good time. They don’t get this too often, it’s a new experience and I know they enjoy it. This is one thing they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives.”

In order to make this a true reward, the kids selected had to meet at least one of the following criteria – good attendance, good academic performance, good behavior, most improved reading, improved academics, improved attendance or improved behavior. Since the FCAT tests were recently completed, the stress level was gone and the kids also got to see the players without their helmets on as real people.

The Miami Dolphins have been partnering with the local school districts for years helping put together these events for the kids. Mark Zaher is the Director of School Operations for Miami-Dade schools and took a special interest in Tuesday’s event because Benjamin Franklin happens to be his alma mater. This is his 26th season working on this partnership.

“Now’s the time for the kids that have been through FCAT and been through a really tough year to unwind a little and have some fun,” Zaher said. “For most families this is relatively expensive to come here and try to spend the day, so thanks to the Dolphin organization again for footing the bill and bringing the players to provide unique interactions. There are always good conversations that go on between the players and the kids as they’re actually having fun at the same time and the kids feel like they’re hard work all year has been rewarded.”

All of the players treat this as a rewarding experience as well, especially the newcomers like tight end Dustin Keller.

“Just in the couple of months I’ve been here I can already see the Dolphins have made giving back to the community a priority,” he said. “This is awesome, not to mention that we get to play a few video games at the same time.”

In addition to Vernon and Keller, Brandon Fields, Dan Carpenter, Chris Clemons, Reshad Jones, Will Yeatman, Jason Trusnik, De’Andre Presley, Koa Misi, Lee Robinson, Marcus Thigpen, Dannell Ellerbe and R.J. Stanford took part in the event.
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