March 26, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Music was playing, children were dancing, smoothies were blending and snacks were being made in Comcast Center on Tuesday afternoon. Former Maryland linebacker, Moise Fokou, returned to the university to host an interactive cooking event for local underprivileged youth.
The event allowed 50 children from Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission's six different communities to learn about healthy habits. The children heard from a nutritionist then ventured to various stations where they could interact and learn more.
The interactive stations included whey smoothies blended by athletic director Kevin Anderson; wraps and whoopie pies made by Sardi's Catering employees; and a Zumba station where kids danced and learned to be active.
Admitting he had never done Zumba, Fokou nonetheless accepted the challenge and let the music carry him. He was up and down, back and forth, swinging his hips and attempting one-armed push-ups. Fokou encouraged the children to make bigger movements and jump higher. He went from never doing Zumba, to being a Zumba pro in no time at all.
Being a former Terp, Fokou jumped at the opportunity to return to Maryland. "It's my alma mater. The place where I became a man, where I had my roots and sprung from there," Fokou said. "Ever since I was blessed with an opportunity to play in the NFL, I knew I had to give back somehow. Coming back to Maryland is a pleasure of mine. I'm excited to do what I'm doing, especially having the university involved."
As a professional football player for the Tennessee Titans, Fokou believes in the importance of helping children and teaching them the healthy habits that led him to achieve success. He created his foundation, Root 53, in 2012, which gives back to underprivileged youth in the cities and neighborhoods in Montgomery County, where he grew up.
"The foundation I opened up is very geared toward helping urban youth," Fokou said. "We try to help them through various ways such as giving them school supplies, teaching them intangibles and teaching healthy living."
Anderson, too, was eager to becoming involved in the event. "One of the things about my job is that I'm able to interact with these wonderful kids. Just being around the energy. Being able to talk about healthy habits and healthy eating," Anderson said. "At one time, I probably wasn't eating healthy and now I am. I wanted to share what I'm doing now."
Anderson says he appreciates when alumni give back to the university and the community. "I just wanted to support Moise and what he's doing with these young people. I think it's wonderful and I wanted to be a part of it."
For more information on Fokou's foundation, visit Root53Foundation.org.