Former Quarterback Standout Teams Up with Peyton Manning to Help Kids

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Mark Herrmann, recent College Football Hall of Fame inductee and former Colts quarterback, now champions health and fitness with Peyton Manning and Project 18.

At Purdue University he was an All America quarterback, Big Ten MVP, and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He played quarterback 11 years in the NFL, including two stints with the Indianapolis Colts, and earlier this year was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Mark Herrmann knows a little something about physical fitness and success. “My whole life I’ve understood that it’s best to be in good physical shape, and to compete,” said the onetime Carmel High School quarterback. “That’s what I’ve tried to do since second grade.”

Today, he’s still on message, helping kids understand the importance of exercise and healthy eating. Herrmann, 51 and a consultant to St. Vincent Health, is responsible for promoting Project 18, a childhood obesity initiative aimed at students in grades 3-5 to educate them about risk factors associated with childhood obesity. “This is a critical age in the development of healthy eating habits,” explained Herrmann. “And, I want kids to pull away from sitting and watching TV and playing video games, and to understand that they don’t have to be a great athlete to be active.”

Peyton Manning and Mark Herrmann
Peyton Manning and Mark Herrmann have teamed up to promote health and fitness through Project 18. (Photo by Kevin Foster)

Oh, and Herrmann has a like-minded colleague you might be familiar with – a fellow named Peyton Manning. “Childhood obesity is a problem that Peyton is passionate about helping to solve,” said Herrmann, who accompanies the Indianapolis Colts star on classroom visits.

Project 18 is affiliated with Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and was developed in association with Ball State University and Marsh Supermarkets. The program encourages holistic health and good eating habits. “Obviously Peyton’s name carries a lot of weight,” said Herrmann, no pun intended. “He really is passionate about kids making right choices to be healthy and active.”

The 18-week curriculum is a big hit, with more then 300 elementary schools across the state participating. Teachers receive binders filled with materials that they incorporate into classroom instruction. Kids are tested before instruction begins, and again afterward to determine measurable results. South Grove Intermediate School in Beech Grove was selected as Project 18’s first challenge winner, earning a $2,500 award and a school visit from Manning.

“Peyton’s been great to work with,” said Herrmann. “He obviously has a very busy schedule, but he makes the time. We’re trying to affect students, and in turn, their families by generating a tidal wave of good health habits.”

Herrmann understands that the program’s success will be judged on its outcome. “This fits right in with St. Vincent’s focus on preventative medicine, where the hope is that by making informed choices at a young age kids might just fend off health-related problems down the road.”

Schools and teachers interested in learning more about Project 18 should visit, or call 317-338-KIDS (5437).

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