NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera helped extinguish the hopes of opposing teams at the end of games as the Yankees' closer for 19 seasons.But on Tuesday morning, Rivera, 47, was at P.S. 63 Author's Academy in the Bronx teaching elementary school children the importance of fire safety as the brand
NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera helped extinguish the hopes of opposing teams at the end of games as the Yankees' closer for 19 seasons.
But on Tuesday morning, Rivera, 47, was at P.S. 63 Author's Academy in the Bronx teaching elementary school children the importance of fire safety as the brand ambassador of The Hartford, which is celebrating the 70th year of its Junior Marshal Fire program.
"It's important to teach our kids the importance of safety when it comes to fire," said Rivera. "So me just being here is something I love to do, just giving back to the community."
Scores of students were packed into the auditorium at the academy wearing red fire hats and enthusiastically applauding The Hartford's giant moose mascot before Rivera entered. The cheers only got louder when Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader walked in.
Even three-plus years into his retirement, most of the students knew Rivera. There were cutout drawings of the closer in his No. 42 uniform hanging around the room.
For the next few hours, Rivera joined members of the New York City Fire Department in demonstrating several safety procedures in case of a fire. He stopped, dropped and rolled for the children, and they discussed the importance of smoke alarms.
"This is a very special morning for our school and our school community, because as you're aware, the Bronx has one of the highest fire rates," school principal Reinaldo Diaz Lens said. "So for Mariano Rivera to take time from his busy schedule to join us this morning to create awareness and to provide our youth with tips on how to evacuate in the event of a fire is extremely important."
The Hartford donated $10,000 to the public schools in the Bronx and another $10,000 to the FDNY to educate and promote fire safety in New York City, which is ranked No. 14 among the 100 United States cities with the highest home fire risk, according to The Hartford Home Fire Index.
It's not only important for the children to learn about fire safety, Rivera said, but it's also equally as crucial for their parents to take the necessary measures to prevent fires. He hopes the students' parents listen when their children tell them all about what they learned from the fire-safety lesson.
"When they go home, they will tell their family, their parents, their mother what they did today," Rivera said. "And I guarantee you, they will make a difference."
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.