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    Hy-Vee Invites Students to ‘Character’-building Youth Event

    Former Iowa Hawkeye and current NFL star Nate Kaeding and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson will be among the featured speakers at Hy-Vee’s “Exercising Your Character” event celebrating youth fitness, sportsmanship and good character.

    Former Iowa Hawkeye and current NFL star Nate Kaeding and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson will be among the featured speakers at Hy-Vee’s “Exercising Your Character” event celebrating youth fitness, sportsmanship and good character.
    Slated to take place on Tuesday, May 4 from 10:30 to noon at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines, the Iowa Sports Foundation and Iowa’s Character Counts! will join the regional grocer in sponsoring the event, which so far has seen nearly 8,000 fourth- and fifth-graders from 77 central Iowa schools register to attend.

    “This is a fun way for kids to hear messages about the importance of eating right, exercising, setting positive goals and being the best person you can be,” noted Darin Hirl, director of event planning at West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee. “The messages are even more meaningful when they come from athletes and coaches the students admire and respect.”

    Kaeding, now a kicker for the San Diego Chargers, led the NFL last season in field goal percentage. The Iowa City native is the Iowa Hawkeyes’ all-time leading scorer and the recipient of the 2002 Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top collegiate placekicker. Johnson, of West Des Moines, is a gymnastics champion, having won the gold medal in the balance beam and silver medals in the floor exercise and individual all-around competitions at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The former world and U.S. all-around titleholder was the winner of the 2008 AAU James E. Sullivan Award, which is presented to the amateur athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of leadership, character and sportsmanship.

    Joining Kaeding and Johnson as speakers at this year’s Exercising Your Character will be Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper, who will serve as master of ceremonies, and basketball coaches Lisa Bluder of Iowa and Amy Stephens of Drake. Hirl said organizers are still waiting to hear from a few invitees and may add another speaker or two to the program, “but as of now, we have a very impressive lineup of speakers who are going to motivate and inspire the kids.”

    True to its name, Exercising Your Character incorporates 30 minutes of aerobic activity to help those schools participating in the Iowa Sports Foundation’s “Go the Distance Day” meet their program goals. Each student attending Exercising Your Character will receive a free Hy-Vee Triathlon T-shirt and a free healthy lunch. Schools are also provided with a transportation allowance to help cover the cost of buses.

    Hirl said Hy-Vee’s sponsorship of Exercising Your Character is a prelude to the Hy-Vee Triathlon, which takes place June 12 and June 13 at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines. In addition to the ITU Elite Cup and adult age-group races, the Hy-Vee Triathlon sponsors Kids, Youth and Junior triathlon events for those ages 5 to 17.

    Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates 228 retail stores in eight Midwestern states.

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