Glen Ellyn fifth-grader Ava Childs is playing an essential role at the Super Bowl Sunday in Dallas.
After all, you need a ball to play the game.
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Thousands at Cowboys Stadium and millions watching throughout the world will see Childs deliver the official game ball to the referee just before kickoff between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
She was chosen as the NFL Super Kid from among 17,000 students throughout the United States who submitted essays about staying physically fit as part of the NFL's PLAY 60 program, which encourages kids to be physically active for 60 minutes a day.
Childs found out this month that her essay was determined to be the winning entry by a committee that included New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. As the Chicago Bears team representative, Childs already was determined to have one of the 32 best essays in the country.
Kicker Robbie Gould, her favorite player, delivered the good news in person at Briar Glen Elementary School in Wheaton.
Childs will be stationed on the sidelines between the 30- and 40-yard lines, wait until the coin toss, then walk onto the field and give the ball to the referee just before kickoff at about 5:30 p.m.
"I'm really excited, but I'm going to be a little nervous too," she said.
Since Tuesday, Childs and her family have been in Dallas for Super Bowl week activities. She got to meet members of the Black Eyed Peas, who will be performing at halftime.
And as someone who aspires to be the NFL's first female kicker, Childs participated in an impromptu kicking practice with Packers kicker Mason Crosby.
But her guy is still Gould. And her rooting allegiance couldn't be with the green and gold, she told Crosby.
"I said, 'I'm sorry, but I have to vote for the Steelers since you beat the Bears. He seemed a little disappointed," she said.
In an effort to promote the PLAY 60 program, Childs participated in a kicking practice with Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri on the "Fox and Friends" show, Saturday on the Fox News Channel.
She'll also be featured in a 90-second spot during the Fox pre-game show, which starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.