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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Colts quarterback Andrew Luck watches as a camper catches one of his passes Friday at the Change the Play Kids Camp at Saint Francis.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passes football with children attending the Change the Play Kids Camp at the University of Saint Francis on Friday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passes football with children attending the Change the Play Kids Camp at the University of Saint Francis on Friday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck gives an interview with members of the media before hosting the Change the Play Kids Camp at the University of Saint Francis on Friday.  

  • Luck motivates a group of children attending the camp, which encourages kids to be active.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck hi-fives a child attending the Change the Play Kids Camp at the University of Saint Francis on Friday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passes football with children attending the Change the Play Kids Camp at the University of Saint Francis on Friday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passes football with children attending the Change the Play Kids Camp at the University of Saint Francis on Friday.  

Saturday, June 22, 2019 1:00 am

Dad-to-be Luck urges campers to stay active

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

Braden McFeters sprinted down the sideline – maybe 15 yards – leaped and snagged the football, completing a full somersault as he came down.

A savvy, little acrobatic sequence prompted Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who threw the ball, to check and see if McFeters, 12, was OK.

McFeters was fine and more in awe of the NFL star, and Luck was in full “dad mode” Friday at his annual Riley Children's Hospital Change the Play camp at Saint Francis' Bishop D'Arcy Stadium.

“I never thought that would ever happen,” McFeters said. “I've always wanted to be a quarterback, especially for the Colts. It's super fun just being here and doing all this fun stuff with people I don't know and being able to get out of my house during the summer.”

Although it's the fifth year of Luck bringing the Change the Play camp to Fort Wayne, the quarterback had extra motivation to interact with the kids, as he revealed last week that he and his wife are expecting their first child.

“Terrifying and exciting,” Luck said of the news. “It's the greatest news I've ever heard in my life, and thankfully my wife is doing well and healthy, so yeah it's really exciting and terrifying.”

Never one to shy away from the kids to begin with, Luck spent the afternoon tossing around the football and discussing with local kids the importance of making healthy choices and staying active.

“As I understand it, we struggle in this state with pediatric heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and I know Riley Children's Health, as well as many people in this state, are working hard to get those numbers pointed in the right direction and have a healthy next generation,” Luck said.

Since the Change the Play program launched in 2013, it has reached 83,000 kids, and with Luck as the spokesman for the movement, kids all around the state are becoming more aware and informed about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

“We have a great partnership with Andrew Luck and Change the Play, and it really is about teaching kids and their families about how they can be more active, eat healthy and really impact their life in terms of health,” said Dr. Paul Haut, chief operating officer at Riley. “We feel like this partnership gives us that opportunity because everybody loves Andrew, and if Andrew's got a good message, it's this one.”

Izrael Jones, 10, caught a number of passes from Luck during the camp. He's a camp rookie, but he said it was nice to catch a pass from an NFL quarterback.

Luck, who's entering his eighth season, spoke highly of the Colts' rookie class this season, despite not being able to participate in minicamp with them.

“A bunch of guys that work hard,” he said. “Obviously, the football played in the offseason is a little different than the football played in training camp and in the season, but here's some really good guys, good teammates that work their butts off and are learning a lot; that's the beauty of it.”

Luck noted that through the years he's seen many returning campers and wants to keep that following going in northeast Indiana.

“Love coming back here. I know as an athlete consistency is so important and it tickles me to see some of the faces of kids that have been to four camps here,” Luck said. “I think it only helps to get the Riley message across and try to get families to take charge of their own health.”

ewyman@jg.net