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Duron Harmon encourages students at Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Summit

Student leaders from across New England spent Thursday at Gillette Stadium for the second Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Summit to understand the importance of eating right, exercise and sharing human stories in their communities.

And they learned all of this with safety Duron Harmon.

The Patriots and the New England Dairy and Food Council teamed up for the Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Summit, where students were encouraged to achieve a healthy lifestyle and to celebrate the students' work to improve school wellness through the afterschool program. 

Duron wanted the students to walk away understanding that what they are doing – being proactive and supporting a healthy lifestyle – is leadership and will impact who they are as adults. Eating breakfast, getting exercise and making smart decisions are not always easy or popular choices for kids and teenagers to make, but they are crucial ones.

For Duron, facing this crossroad and choosing wisely set him up on the path that got him to where he is now. When he was in high school, Duron said he spent a football practice before a big game goofing around with his friends. After practice his coach pulled him aside, and the conversation put things into perspective.

His coach asked Duron what he wanted to do after high school, and Duron said he wanted to play football in college.

"'How can you tell me you want to play in college when you were just horsing around not paying attention to what your coaches are telling you, distracting your teammates and not acting like you care about the biggest game of the season tomorrow?' So I sat there I thought how can I say I do care, I do want to go to college and I want to do all of these great things when my actions are not showing it," Duron said. "Your actions are big, and from that moment I realized I had to take things a little more seriously than everybody else and you guys probably have to do the same and I'm seeing that today."

summit-495.jpg

He recognized that it can be difficult sometimes, but in order to achieve goals and to affect change, you must push through and realize that failure helps you grow.

"I applaud you guys for what you are doing and I'm telling you just keep pushing. Keep being great at what you want to be great at. You guys can do anything you want to do. I had people tell me that I'd never make it to the NFL, but I'm here and I'm going to stay here because this is what I want to do," Duron said. "When you figure out what you want to do, go all in on it. Give it everything you've got. Don't be afraid to fail. Failure is a part of life. When you play for Bill Belichick, it's hard not to fail. I fail every day but failure is what makes me who I am as a person and a player."

The students, teachers and advisors took in Duron's message and spent their day in workshops, listening to panels and participating in group activities – including a smoothie contest – to reinforce the ideas he discussed.

Being able to communicate the lessons they all have learned with their communities was also stressed throughout the day, and EPSN NFL Nation Reporter Mike Reiss, who hosted the event, helped to illustrate what makes a captivating story.

summit-413.jpg

Duron told the story of how his second son was born, how he didn't believe his wife when she said she was going into labor and how he had her drive to the hospital while he reported to work.

"I know, I know. I sound like a terrible husband," Duron said in response to the laughter from the crowd.

When his wife called, Duron assumed she was sent home and they still had more time before she went into labor. But he was wrong.

"I answer the phone, and this is what she said and I had to let her say it because she was going into labor at the time. She said, 'I told you, you idiot. It was time. If I had listened to you we would have a baby in our bathroom," Duron said.

He high-tailed it to the hospital and made it in time for the birth of his son, and while the anecdote drew laughter and smiles from the students, Mike told them there was a reason the story stood out.

"He actually shared that with us as reports. It's a story that I never forget because it's a great story, and Duron is so human," Mike said. "I wanted him to share it with you here because you are all going to go back and tell stories to your communities, to your schools, and some of the best stories are the human stories, the real stories. It doesn't get any more real than that."

summit-490.jpg

Student leaders from across New England spent Thursday at Gillette Stadium for the second Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Summit to understand the importance of eating right, exercise and sharing human stories in their communities.

And they learned all of this with safety Duron Harmon.

The Patriots and the New England Dairy and Food Council teamed up for the Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Summit, where students were encouraged to achieve a healthy lifestyle and to celebrate the students' work to improve school wellness through the afterschool program. 

Duron wanted the students to walk away understanding that what they are doing – being proactive and supporting a healthy lifestyle – is leadership and will impact who they are as adults. Eating breakfast, getting exercise and making smart decisions are not always easy or popular choices for kids and teenagers to make, but they are crucial ones.

For Duron, facing this crossroad and choosing wisely set him up on the path that got him to where he is now. When he was in high school, Duron said he spent a football practice before a big game goofing around with his friends. After practice his coach pulled him aside, and the conversation put things into perspective.

His coach asked Duron what he wanted to do after high school, and Duron said he wanted to play football in college.

"'How can you tell me you want to play in college when you were just horsing around not paying attention to what your coaches are telling you, distracting your teammates and not acting like you care about the biggest game of the season tomorrow?' So I sat there I thought how can I say I do care, I do want to go to college and I want to do all of these great things when my actions are not showing it," Duron said. "Your actions are big, and from that moment I realized I had to take things a little more seriously than everybody else and you guys probably have to do the same and I'm seeing that today."

summit-495.jpg

He recognized that it can be difficult sometimes, but in order to achieve goals and to affect change, you must push through and realize that failure helps you grow.

"I applaud you guys for what you are doing and I'm telling you just keep pushing. Keep being great at what you want to be great at. You guys can do anything you want to do. I had people tell me that I'd never make it to the NFL, but I'm here and I'm going to stay here because this is what I want to do," Duron said. "When you figure out what you want to do, go all in on it. Give it everything you've got. Don't be afraid to fail. Failure is a part of life. When you play for Bill Belichick, it's hard not to fail. I fail every day but failure is what makes me who I am as a person and a player."

The students, teachers and advisors took in Duron's message and spent their day in workshops, listening to panels and participating in group activities – including a smoothie contest – to reinforce the ideas he discussed.

Being able to communicate the lessons they all have learned with their communities was also stressed throughout the day, and EPSN NFL Nation Reporter Mike Reiss, who hosted the event, helped to illustrate what makes a captivating story.

summit-413.jpg

Duron told the story of how his second son was born, how he didn't believe his wife when she said she was going into labor and how he had her drive to the hospital while he reported to work.

"I know, I know. I sound like a terrible husband," Duron said in response to the laughter from the crowd.

When his wife called, Duron assumed she was sent home and they still had more time before she went into labor. But he was wrong.

"I answer the phone, and this is what she said and I had to let her say it because she was going into labor at the time. She said, 'I told you, you idiot. It was time. If I had listened to you we would have a baby in our bathroom," Duron said.

He high-tailed it to the hospital and made it in time for the birth of his son, and while the anecdote drew laughter and smiles from the students, Mike told them there was a reason the story stood out.

"He actually shared that with us as reports. It's a story that I never forget because it's a great story, and Duron is so human," Mike said. "I wanted him to share it with you here because you are all going to go back and tell stories to your communities, to your schools, and some of the best stories are the human stories, the real stories. It doesn't get any more real than that."

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