PHOTO: Elm 8th grader Nathan Calderon displays some of the swag he brought home this summer from the 2017 Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador Summit.
As members of the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers stood at midfield for the pregame coin toss Sept. 24 at Soldier Field, they were joined by Bears legend Dick Butkus and two students from area schools.
One of those students was Elm's own Nathan Calderon. So what was the 8th grader doing there as an honorary Bears team captain?
Nathan and his counterpart, Grace, from River Trails Middle School in Mount Prospect, were being recognized as the 2017-18 Illinois student ambassadors for Fuel Up to Play 60, the nation's largest health and wellness program.
PHOTO: Elm 8th-grade student Nathan Calderon (third from right in orange shirt) stands on the sideline with the Chicago Bears during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the Sept. 24 Bears game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo courtesy of Sandra Brown, Midwest Dairy Council. (Click image for larger view.)
At the Bears Game
In addition to meeting NFL Hall of Famer Butkus and watching the coin toss from the best location in Soldier Field, Nathan and Grace also stood on the Bears sideline for the playing of the National Anthem.
"I loved getting so many pictures of the Bears, Steelers and the entire field," Nathan said of the experience.
"All I could do was stand there in awe, thinking about how rare this opportunity was, and how lucky I was to be there. Honestly, I wasn't that nervous until I was walking onto the field with all the players."
PHOTO: Nathan Calderon (far right) walks onto Soldier Field with members of the Chicago Bears prior to the start of the Bears' Sept. 24 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nathan and his fellow Fuel Up to Play 60 state ambassador, Grace (third from right), were honorary Bears team captains for the day. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears. (Click image for larger view.)
What Is "Fuel Up to Play 60"?
Fuel Up to Play 60 — also known as "FUTP 60" —encourages students to eat healthy, be active and make positive changes in their schools and communities.
Nathan was named one of the state's two student ambassadors for his participation and leadership in the FUTP 60 program at his previous school, Perez Elementary School in Chicago.
PHOTO: Elm's own Nathan Calderon stands next to Bears legend Dick Butkus as the pregame coin toss is about to begin. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears. (Click image for larger view.)
Becoming Involved in FUTP 60
With the support of his PE teacher/FUTP 60 program adviser at Perez, Michael Millikan, Nathan helped lead positive health and wellness changes at the school.
Nathan joined the Perez Wellness Team in 6th grade as a way of contributing to the improvement of his school, and he continued as a 7th grader.
Last year he and his teammates initiated a number of health and wellness activities, including community cleanups and a major research-based project aimed at younger students about the importance of breakfast.
By participating in these supervised activities, Nathan accumulated points. Once he reached 45,000 he was eligible to apply for the position of FUTP 60 Illinois student ambassador.
PHOTO: Nathan Calderon (left) stands on the Bears sideline with NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus. Nathan's fellow Fuel Up to Play 60 state ambassador, Grace from Mount Prospect, is on the right. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears. (Click image for larger view.)
Becoming a State Ambassador
Nathan found out in late spring that he was one of only two students in Illinois selected for the honor. Overall, approximately 50,000 students nationwide applied for their respective state positions.
As a result of being named a state ambassador, Nathan received an all-expense-paid trip to the FUTP 60 Student Ambassador Summit in Minneapolis July 24-27.
While there, he met with members of the Minnesota Vikings, visited U.S. Bank Stadium and took educational field trips related to health and wellness. He also engaged with other student ambassadors from across the country, learning how to increase access to nutrient-rich foods and attain 60 minutes of physical activity for their schools.
Now that he's at Elm, Nathan hopes to spread the word about FUTP 60 and apply what he's learned from the program.
In recognition of Nathan's accomplishment, Elm will receive an FUTP 60 banner for display.
"We are very proud of Nathan's efforts in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and the opportunities he's had as a result of his efforts," said Elm Principal Dr. Kathleen Porreca. "It's a great example to students that if you go the extra mile to get involved, a lot of fun experiences will come your way."
PHOTO: Soldier Field's videoboard shows Nathan Calderon as he heads to midfield for the Bears-Steelers coin toss with Dick Butkus, fellow FUTP 60 state ambassador Grace and members of the Bears. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears. (Click image for larger view.)
More Photos from Nathan's Day at Soldier Field
NOTE: The following photos were taken at the Sept. 24 Chicago Bears-Pittsburgh Steelers game. As noted below, they are courtesy of either the Chicago Bears or Sandra Brown of the Midwest Dairy Council. Click any image for a larger view.
PHOTO: Nathan Calderon (right) with NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus and fellow FUTP 60 state ambassador Grace prior to the Sept. 24 Bears game against Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of Sandra Brown, Midwest Dairy Council.
PHOTO: Nathan at Soldier Field with the Fuel Up to Play 60 hashtag. Photo courtesy of Sandra Brown, Midwest Dairy Council.
PHOTO: Nathan before the Bears-Steelers game, displaying an FUTP 60 promotional sign. Photo courtesy of Sandra Brown, Midwest Dairy Council.
PHOTO: Nathan at Soldier Field with a message from the Midwest Dairy Council. Photo courtesy of Sandra Brown, Midwest Dairy Council.
PHOTO: Nathan is filmed on the Bears sideline along with Dick Butkus and fellow FUTP 60 state ambassador Grace. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears.
PHOTO: Nathan enjoys the view from the Bears sideline with Dick Butkus and fellow FUTP 60 state ambassador Grace. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears.
PHOTO: Nathan and his fellow FUTP 60 Illinois student ambassador Grace are shown on the Soldier Field videoboard along with a Bears-themed version of the program's logo. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bears.