These last few mornings have been far from ordinary for Bengals tight end Ben Utecht. On top of starting his offseason workout regimen, launching his new Web site, and tending to his 1-month old baby girl, Ben has been spending his time traveling to six different Cincinnati Public Schools to help GEARUP spread their important message to fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders across the city.
GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness in Undergraduate Programs) is a federally funded program designed to give students the resources to not only stay in school, but to continue their education beyond elementary school all the way through to college. Dr. Steffi Cappel, Executive Director of the program, and other GEARUP staff accompanied Ben during his visits to give more information about the program.
Students at AWL, Frederick Douglass, Hays, Hoffman, Oyler, and Rockdale Elementary Schools were enamored with the 6-7 guest they had roaming their halls. Despite having to duck under a few doorways, Ben was comfortable speaking with the students about the importance of staying in school and working hard.
Ben's message was clear and right in line with GEARUP's mission – 'the future is bright'! Ben attributed his success, both on and off the field, to hard work and perseverance, even during difficult times. In quoting one of his past coaches, Tony Dungy, he challenged the students to possess good character, which Dungy defined as "doing what is right, even when no one is looking." With the help and resources provided by GEARUP, each student has the opportunity to succeed through education and attaining his or her dreams. Ben's message today, in conjunction with GEARUP's goals, may make the difference in helping some of those dreams come true.
For more information about the GEARUP program, please visit their Web site.