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Larson, Swedberg honored by Vikings, Midwest Dairy Council

Olivia Larson (left) and Leah Swedberg (second from left) meet with dairy farmers Peter and Stacy Ripka prior the Sunday, Dec. 1, Vikings game against the Chicago Bears. Submitted photo

Before the start of last Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings game against the Chicago Bears,the Vikings and the Midwest Dairy Council teamed up to reward Fuel Up to Play 60 youth leaders and advisors from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa with the ultimate game day experience: a run through the players’ tunnel in front of 64,000 cheering fans at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Among those youth leaders and advisors were Sheyenne High School student Olivia Larson, Fuel Up to Play 60’s student ambassador for North Dakota, and program advisor Leah Swedberg, who teaches at West Fargo high School.

Larson and the other student leaders have played a large role in implementing and promoting the Play 60 program, a movement to improve youth health and wellness at their schools and in their communities.

“It’s inspiring to see such a high level of enthusiasm for Fuel Up to Play 60 from these students and advisors. They’re extremely motivated to implement the program’s plays and campaigns, and to make positive, healthy changes in their schools and communities,” said Lisa McCann, RD, program manager of health and wellness, Midwest Dairy Council. “These students are developing lifelong healthy habits that will benefit them for years to come, and we were excited to reward them with a trip to the game.”

During the pre-game activities, the group also met mascot Viktor the Viking, Princess Kay of the Milky Way MarJenna McWilliam and Minnesota dairy farmer Peter Ripka. During the game, there was a special announcement recognizing the students and program advisors from Fuel Up to Play 60 and their enthusiasm for encouraging peers to make healthy, active decisions.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture, which encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Fuel Up to Play 60 student leaders and their program advisors encourage peers and family members to make healthier food choices and commit to daily physical activity as part of the program, which engages more than 73,000 schools nationwide.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Midwest Dairy Council to generate excitement for the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative,” said Steve LaCroix, Minnesota Vikings vice president of sales and marketing/chief marketing officer. “Our players understand the importance of nutritional health and physical fitness, and they are proud to be positive role models for young leaders who are inspiring others to live healthier lives."

The Midwest Dairy Council is an affiliate of the National Dairy Council, and serves as the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of more than 9,100 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states, and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60. For more information, visit