Gatorade and New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper teamed up as part of the Gatorade Company's Train with a Pro program to give the high school football team at Riverdale High School the opportunity to learn how the pros train and fuel to Win from Within on Tuesday.
Harper spent the afternoon at the Riverdale High School football practice, giving the students advice on playing techniques, training methods and the work required to play on a higher level.
"Hard work pays off," said Harper. "Whatever you put into something is usually what you're going to get out of it whether it's school, football, other athletics or any aspect of your life. You can do anything you want, you just have to put your mind to it and go out and do it."
The safety for the black and gold was able to spend the entire practice with the players including a break-out session coaching up the defensive backs.
"I just wanted to coach them up, help them out, answer any questions they might have and try to improve their game," said Harper. "I really enjoyed the opportunity to come out and have a good time with these kids."
However, one member of the squad was unable to be in attendance.
Elijah Chantiloupe, a sophomore linebacker who moved to New Orleans from Atlanta this past summer, was dealing with medical issues.
A few weeks ago Elijah was injured in practice which prompted him to see a doctor. During his visit, he was diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma, a cancer that affects cartilage in the body that is more common among older people. According to his coaches, Elijah's case is very rare.
Elijah has been unable to be with his team but the coaches and his teammates have worked hard to try support their friend and his family. The coaches made t-shirts that read "Stay Strong" and have worn them at practice and at games since discovering their player's injury.
Harper wore the "Stay Strong" shirt during practice. At the conclusion of practice, Harper and the Riverdale squad made a phone call to Elijah so he could be included in the event.
The school is selling the t-shirts for $15 as well as accepting donations for the Chantiloupe family. All money will be donated directly to the family to be put towards care for Elijah. Orders can be placed at the school or by emailing StayStrongEC17@Yahoo.com.