Courtesy photo Adam McGill helps Park Elementary Students during a race to see who could gear up quickest.
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published: Sunday, March 10, 2013
Professional off-road racers deliver message
Special to the News-Sun
AVON PARK - The students of Avon Park's Park Elementary and Middle schools had the distinct pleasure of being visited by three professional off-road racers from the GNCC (Grand National Cross Country) series on Thursday.
Adam McGill, Johnny Gallagher and Branden Henthorn spoke to the students on motorsport safety, teamwork, self-esteem and anti-bullying.
McGill is ranked fourth and Gallagher is ranked eighth in the professional series. Henthorn, who is only 17, just turned professional and is a rookie this year.
The appearance was coordinated between the schools, GNCC, and Ronnie Jackson, in combination with the Avon Park Champions Club.
"This is one of the things as a Champions Club we do for the schools," Jackson said, "bring in people to talk about bullying, staying in school, teamwork and that type of stuff."
Jen Kenyon, who is the media spokesperson for the GNCC Series, stated that they were there to let the pro racers talk to the kids about the importance of safety, goal setting and anti-bullying topics.
"We are here to mingle with the kids and give them a good positive message," Kenyon said. "We use this as a way to get kids involved in what we do in racing, but also it is important to use our pro racers, who the kids look up to, to send a positive message."
The racers are in the area as the new season of the GNCC series kicks off today at Westgate River Ranch in Lake Wales.
The students at Park Elementary were excited when they saw the three racers, who were in their racing suits, the safety gear that was laid out and most importantly two ATVs (all-terrain vehicle) that they actually use in racing.
"It is definitely dangerous," Kenyon said. "That's why these guys are going to gear up with all their safety gear and tell the kids how important it is to wear your helmet, wear long sleeves, gloves and proper foot wear."
Gallagher spoke about goal setting and teamwork. He told them that he has been riding for 30 years and knew at a young age he wanted to be a professional rider. Even though many told him he would not make it, he continued to pursue his dream and it came true.
He also stated that even though he gets to be in front of the camera, sign autographs and all the other "cool" stuff, it would not be possible without the help of others.
"Team work is important," Gallagher said, "such as people that work on the bikes and those that arranged for us to be here today."
They told the students of the saying, "Quitters never win; winners never quit" and how that can be used in any part of life, whether it is doing homework, chores at home, playing sports and extra-curricular activities, the most important thing is to never give up.
"Just like these guys standing before you," Kenyon told the students, "they get to travel across the country and race their ATVs because they never gave up on their dream."
They also spoke about bullying. Many of the students raised their hands when they were asked if they saw someone being mean to someone else during the past week.
"Look around," Gallagher said. "These guys are going to be around for years and should work together as a team. Be nice if somebody is down. Don't beat each other down."
"It's not cool to pick on or make fun of other people," McGill said. "Don't beat each other up. Get to know them, maybe you will find other things that you like."
They also had a presentation on safety gear, that included involving four student volunteers in a race to put all the safety on as the crowd cheered them on.
Afterwards, the students had the chance to look at the gear. Some got on the ATVs, shake hands or do high fives with the racers.
Dr. Brenda Longshore, principal at Park Elementary, thanked the racers for coming to the school.
"We tell them the same thing," Longshore said, "but when they hear it from them, they listen and repeat it."
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