KODAK (WATE) – More than 4,200 fourth graders filled the stands of Smokies Stadium for the 24th annual health and safety day, an opportunity for students to watch a baseball game and learn the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle.
The day marked a milestone for fourth grader Addison Brewer, who earned the chance to throw the first pitch at the minor league baseball game by selling 261 books in the Knox County Schools coupon book campaign.
“It’s pretty cool that you get to come out here and throw the first pitch,” she said.
Addison and thousands of other Knox Count fourth graders enjoyed a trip to Kodak, where they received a lesson in safety, nutrition and physical activity.
“It’s important for a lot of different reasons,” said Carrie Whitt of Knox County Schools Business Partnerships. “Growing obesity rates is one thing, but just to educate them at an early age so they can start out on that good foot before they get to the point where it’s really imperative that they make those good choices.”
Tennessee Smokies pitcher Tyler Skulina said he enjoys being a role model for kids and seeing their faces light up when he interacts with them.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said. I haven’t seen a kids day in a couple of years and being able to walk around all the stands and stuff was pretty sweet [with] all the kids coming up [and] happy.”
He also said embracing physical activity and team sports at an early age helped him grow as an athlete and person. He encourages young people to do the same.
“I played four sports growing up so it was always good discipline with the coaches and being told what to do and be given direction,” Skulina said.
The game against the Mobile BayBears followed the signing of the National Anthem by the Knox County Schools Elementary Honors Choir. East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s Cares sponsored the event.