Randy Snyder/The Herald-Dispatch

Two-year-old Wyatt Stump of Glenwood, W.Va., plays with a Lego set Saturday provided by the Marshall Math Club during the Success by 6 program hosted by the United Way of the River Cities at Marshall University.

Success By 6 has ‘super kids’ hoppin’

By DAVE LAVENDER -- The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- Trod Buggs put his feet together and hopped like a bunny through colored Hula Hoops duct-taped to the floor Saturday morning.

It’s not some wacky new football workout. It was just if Buggs didn’t get hoping, the former Marshall University linebacker/running back was going to get run over by a long line of toddlers hopping behind him.

Buggs, who was at the Developmental Therapy Center area, was one of dozens of volunteers who came out for the United Way of the River Cities’ Success By 6 program called "Super Kids, Super Families, Super Bowl."

The program ran from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Don Morris Room of the MU Memorial Student Center.

Like most of the volunteers, Buggs had a ball.

"People see us on the TV and think we are big, mean animals -- not true," said a smiling Buggs, who has a 16-month-old daughter.

More than 500 children with parents in tow, came to the event, which had information tables, booths and play areas from 17 local agencies that serve children’s needs. The goal of the United Way’s Success By 6 program is to make the community aware of the programs available to help children be ready for kindergarten.

Children got fingerprinted by the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, got a free mini football for MU football players to sign and free snacks. All made their way to the floor with Linda Hamilton, the keeper of the LEGO land.

Hamilton, an MU math professor who utilizes LEGOs for teaching math and other skills to pre-school up to college age and beyond, had five plastic tubs of LEGO pieces that hordes of children attached together.

By the end of the program, a small colorful block city was being built, with a road that snaked around the floor.

"Math is a good word," Hamilton said. "Look at all the people working together. The track is coming all the way around."

Deborah Somuano brought along a friend who has four young children to give her some ideas for activities for the children and agencies.

"So many times you want to get your kids into something, but you are unsure what is age-appropriate," Somuano said. "This gives you an idea of what is out there."

Most booths handed out information and a little surprise for the kids. The Cabell County Health Department gave away rainbow-colored Slinky’s and sunglasses while their booth contained a stark message about using tobacco.

Titled "Glory Days," and "Gory Days," two photos showed former Major League Baseball player Bill Tuttle before and after he contracted cancer from chewing tobacco.

"I think pictures say a lot more than a bunch of words," said Michelle Finney, a worker with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. "This teaches kids to make good decisions when they get older."
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