A Raven all his own

Elkridge Elementary's Travis Justice wins a contest and takes Todd Heap to school

  • Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap laughs as he listens to Elkridge Elementary fifth-grader Travis Justice during a visit at the familyÂ’s home before heading off to school.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap laughs as he listens to… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim…)
November 15, 2009|By John-John Williams IV | john-john.williams@baltsun.com

A couple of months ago, Travis Justice wouldn't have dreamed that he would be riding in a limousine and spending most of the school day with Baltimore Ravens star Todd Heap.

The 10-year-old fifth-grader at Elkridge Elementary School entered the NFL's Take a Player to School contest on a whim. He's glad he did.

"It tops everything," Travis said. "That was the best day of my life."

After picking Travis up from his home in Elkridge, Heap spent more than three hours at the school Tuesday. During his visit, he spoke about the importance of education and physical fitness during a spirited assembly in front of the entire school in the cafetorium. He also signed autographs and posed for photos with fans - students and adults. He even joined Travis' physical education class to practice football drills.

"It made an impression on the kids," said Principal Diane Mumford. "For Todd to take the time to come to the school, that is something that we will remember. To have someone take a day to spend with us is pretty incredible."

In addition to the visit, the school was also given a $2,000 check from the event's sponsors - the National Football League and JC Penney - to use for after-school programming.

"It's very exciting," Mumford said. "It gives us something to plan. We're so appreciative."

During the assembly, students and teachers screamed and cheered for both Heap and Travis.

"Travis! Travis! Travis!" the crowd chanted in unison for close to 30 seconds.

"This is incredible," Mumford told the crowd. "What a day! This is a morning we will remember for many days to come."

During Heap's speech, he told the audience about his rise to the NFL; the biggest influence in his life (his father); and the importance of staying active.

"This is an exciting day to come to school," Heap told the audience. "In order to play sports, I had to do well in school. I did the best that I could."

After the assembly, Heap joined Travis' physical-education class, where he threw footballs to the students during a running drill.

"It's amazing," said Muskee Books, Travis' physical-education teacher. "It's a memory for a lifetime. [The students] will talk about it for a lifetime. It shows what kind of a guy he is. It's such a positive thing."

Travis later said that this was the highlight of the day for him.

"That was fun," said Travis, who has aspirations of being a professional football or lacrosse player when he gets older. "He had good sportsmanship. He went easy on us."

Travis' mother, Amy Justice, said her family is still in a state of shock.

"I cannot believe what an awesome, down-to-earth person he is," she said about Heap. "He truly enjoys his job. He was so sincere in everything that he did. He seemed to enjoy himself as much as Travis and the rest of us did. We never expected that."

Neighbors stood outside the Justice home and watched in awe as Heap and Travis drove away to school in the limousine, according to Amy Justice.

"We had the whole neighborhood outside," she said. "It's not that often that we have Todd Heap in the neighborhood."

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