NFL helps educational campaign

As teams around the National Football League (NFL) and from schools across the country prepare for two-a-day preseason practices, The Gatorade Company will join forces with the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars to launch a nationwide campaign aimed at educating parents and football coaches about the importance of hydration in order to keep athletes on the field during the annual summer sessions.

As part of this effort, Gatorade will oversee a league-wide "Two-A-Day Safety Donation Day" initiative with NFL teams during training camps to raise money to further the awareness and educational efforts of the Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation (KFMF), which was founded by Mike and Rhonda Fincher in memory of their son, Kendrick, who succumbed to complications from heat stroke during the summer of 1995.

"When we created the Foundation, our primary goal was to make sure no parent would ever have to experience what we experienced with Kendrick, especially when heat-related illnesses are 100% preventable," said Rhonda Fincher. "It's so important for parents and coaches to pay extra attention to proper hydration awareness and cool down techniques to help ensure players stay safe on the field during hot summer practices. Gatorade and the NFL will be helping us get this message out to a much greater audience."

The partnership between Gatorade and the NFL is built on communicating heat-illness prevention and treatment techniques, including the key tools all teams need to defend against heat illness: education, preparation, proper hydration and a "cool pool" on the sidelines for cold water immersion to treat heatstroke.

"Exertional heat illness is a preventable problem if it is properly addressed before the athletes get on the field." said Michael Ryan, Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist for the Jacksonville Jaguars. "Educating the players, coaches and the staff is the first step to avoiding problems. The proper hydration with both water and Gatorade before, during and after exercise is extremely important. Knowing the early warning signs and staying as cool as possible with regular breaks from the workouts while getting out of the direct sun are great steps to implement for all teams. A well balance diet, wearing light-colored breathable clothing and medical supervision will ensure that the athletes will help the team stay healthy."

Research conducted by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute found that approximately 70% of high school football players show up to practices significantly dehydrated, placing them at great risk for heat illness and injuries. Further research indicated that a simple hydration strategy could dramatically reduce this incidence of pre-practice dehydration and lower the risk for heat illness.

"Working with the National Football League and the Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation to boost awareness about hydration speaks to the origins of Gatorade, which was created to help football players stay hydrated and safe, and able to perform at their best on the field," said Tom Fox, senior vice president of sports marketing for Gatorade. "Through this partnership, we hope to educate as many parents, coaches and players as possible, to reduce the number of preventable heat-related injuries this summer.

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