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A Ravens Stampede at the Maryland Zoo


Discover the difference between a cheetah and a leopard? Check. Dance like a crane? Double check. These tasks where only two of the many activities featured in "The Amazing Race – Ravens Style." Based on the popular CBS reality series, 114 fourth graders joined the Ravens in navigating through The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore for the Ravens/United Way of Central Maryland 2009 Hometown Huddle.

A league-wide day of hands-on activity, the Ravens elected to get active (and go wild) with students from Cecil Elementary and Hampstead Hill Academy and designed the interactive event. Armed with "route clues," zoo maps and guided by volunteers from M&T Bank, Under Armour and United Way, teams of students engaged their muscles and their brains as they completed various tasks. Without leaving Maryland, the students braved The Arctic, took a walking (or for some teams, running) safari in the African Journey and got to know the ecosystems of their home terrain in a special Maryland-based exhibit.

Long snapperMatt Katula, safetyDawan Landry, running backMatt Lawrence, linebackerJameel McClain, running backJalen Parmeleand tackleStefan Rodgersembraced the Ravens' yearlong theme – and played like Ravens. Members of the team were scattered throughout the zoo, helping at checkpoints, ensuring that tasks were complete and cheering the teams on at the finish. Parmele led one group of very excited students on their race adventure. Although his group didn't finish in first place, they had a great time with the Ravens' RB. Members of the Lady Ravens Association also walked on the wild side and joined the race.

At "The Big Finish," the students dug through a wall of Under Armour shoe boxes to find the pair labeled with their name. After everyone on the team had put on their new shoes, the group made a 40-yard dash to the final checkpoint. Each student was able to keep their shoes as a reward for completing "The Amazing Race – Ravens Style." The team that crossed the finish line first, Team 12 from Hampstead Hill Academy, was awarded tickets to the Ravens home game on November 29.

In celebration of a great day of physical activity and fun, all race participants enjoyed a barbeque lunch before heading back to school. Whether they galloped, waddled or soared through the zoo, "The Amazing Race – Ravens Style" was a day all participants will remember for years to come.

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