Dolphins players once again were out in the community Tuesday interacting with members from the FOOTBALL UNITES™ program, and this time they got to do some cooking and eating.
The Dolphins, in partnership with Publix, hosted the Dolphins Kids Cook-Off at the Publix Aprons Cooking School in Plantation. About 20 students from the Police Athletic Leagues of the Broward Sheriff's Office and the police departments of Miramar, North Miami and North Miami Beach as well as the Miami Gardens Explorers were joined by law enforcement officers and a group of Dolphins players that included wide receiver Kenny Stills, as well as rookies Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker.
"I think this is just amazing," said Lynda Roberts, the PAL executive director for Region 3, which covers South Florida, as well as a North Miami Beach PD Public Information Officer. "What we have been engaged with the Miami Dolphins throughout these past couple of months has just been breathtaking, not only for the children that we bring here but even for the adults. The uniting of cultures together, bringing everyone together as one, words cannot explain it. The feeling that I feel and I know that the back conversation of the youth that have the opportunity that would have never had this type of opportunity has just been amazing. I am so thankful to be a part of this.
"I'm so thankful that the Dolphins took the time to even have a program like this. To bring cultures together, to bring so many people together, it's like a family. And I don't ever want to leave it. Our children don't want to leave it. 'What are we doing with the Dolphins today? What are we doing with the Dolphins this week?' And not only that they learn so much because they write letters after every event that they do to tell their feelings about what they felt about something that they interacted with today. And it's just been absolutely amazing. I thank God for this organization. I said it before, words just cannot express how thankful and grateful we are."
Participants in the event Tuesday were given quick cooking classes from chefs in the Publix Aprons Cooking School, and made pizza, cupcakes and Caesar salad.
Most importantly, the kids, players and officers got the chance to interact.
"When I go to events like this, I don't think about the season at all," Baker said. "Just to see the kids' faces, just to do something different, it means a lot to me. My whole life, my whole time right now is just football, football, football. … This is my time just to get away from it, and enjoy the kids and have a good time."
The Cook-Off was the latest event put together through the FOOTBALL UNITES™ program, and followed cultural tours throughout South Florida.
Along with the cooking lesson and the food, the kids involved Tuesday had the chance to take photos and received Dolphins and Publix branded T-shirts as well as a $100 gift certificate from Publix for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
As big as part of the event, though, was the interaction for everybody involved.
That is at the core of the FOOTBALL UNITES™ philosophy.
"It's a great partnership with the Miami Dolphins and Publix," said Jason Jenkins, Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs. "We've had this event for a couple of years, but we kind of wanted to change the way it has been with our FOOTBALL UNITES™ program. FOOTBALL UNITES™ is looking at ways to bring people of different races, genders, sexual orientations and identities together, but also build our relationship with law enforcement.
"We have different law enforcement PAL programs in. We see the interaction with the players as well. It's just a great opportunity for Publix to bring these people together, for them to cook, to learn and fellowship how to make proper meals, proper desserts. The holiday season is right there, so I think it's a great opportunity to bring everyone together."