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'A dream come true:' Third-grader takes Falcons player to school

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Atlanta Falcons player Tony Gonzalez does warmup exercises with third-grade students Meghan Betourney, from left, Madeline Demos, Jamaal Singleton and Jayde Lambert on Tuesday at Taylor Elementary School in Lawrenceville. Singleton won the honor to take a Falcon to school. Gonzalez picked up Singleton in a limo from his house, took him to school, visited the principal's office, and spoke to students about the importance of good health before participating in fitness activities.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Atlanta Falcons player Tony Gonzalez does warmup exercises with third-grade students Meghan Betourney, from left, Madeline Demos, Jamaal Singleton and Jayde Lambert on Tuesday at Taylor Elementary School in Lawrenceville. Singleton won the honor to take a Falcon to school. Gonzalez picked up Singleton in a limo from his house, took him to school, visited the principal's office, and spoke to students about the importance of good health before participating in fitness activities.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- When Taylor Elementary School third-grader Jamaal Singleton woke up Tuesday morning, the excitement hit him a few moments after he cleared the sleep from his eyes.

"I was thinking, 'Wait, it's the day!'" Jamaal said. "I was just so excited about this day."

Tuesday was the day Jamaal got to go to school in a limousine -- with Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. Jamaal was a winner of the NFL Take a Player to School sweepstakes. One winner was selected in each of the 32 NFL markets and two non-NFL markets.

"I was thinking ... that I must be the luckiest person in the world," the 9-year-old Falcons fan said. "It's actually the first time I talked to an NFL player in person, and I hope I get another chance to do it again."

When asked what his classmates thought about him winning the sweepstakes, Jamaal said, "They'll think, 'Why wasn't it me? I could have registered at JCPenney and won.'"

Jamaal's mother, Latavise Singleton, said she never thought Jamaal would win when she entered the sweepstakes online.

"For Jamaal, it's been unbelievable," his father, Joseph Singleton, said. "It's like a dream come true for him. He absolutely loves football, and he loves the Falcons."

During his visit, Gonzalez spoke to an assembly of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students about the importance of exercising and eating healthy. He promoted the NFL's Play 60 campaign, which encourages children to engage in physical activity for 60 minutes each day.

"Childhood obesity is a problem in America, and it's something that needs to be addressed," Gonzalez said.

After the assembly, Jamaal's class participated in activities using fitness equipment such as jump ropes, hula hoops and light weights. Gonzalez also tossed a football to students.

Additionally, the NFL and the JCPenney Afterschool Fund presented Taylor Elementary with $2,000 for its physical education program.

"Keeping children healthy is an important part of education," Taylor principal Sandra Williams said. "Healthy bodies promote healthy minds."

Jamaal said he'll remember the day for the rest of his life.

"This is probably the best day of my life," he said.