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GRAND PRAIRIE As a youngster, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten spent a lot of time with the Boys & Girls Clubs, so it's no surprise that he's a big supporter of the organization today.

"You see my story and the road to get here," Witten said during a visit to the Grand Prairie Boys & Girls Club. "A lot of people made huge sacrifices, and I was no different than a lot of these kids with the challenges they have in their lives."

At an assembly in Grand Prairie, Witten led the way by running from one end of the gym to other and performing jumping jacks... then returning to the other end.

Later, the kids would compete using the same routine. Along the way, they had to select a healthy snack.

"To be a role model for them is awesome," Witten said. "They can come here with a lot of challenges in their life, but it seems like the few hours that they're here, all is okay."

Witten's Score Foundation is active year 'round with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Tuesday's fitness challenge comes just three days before he starts a challenge of his own: The beginning of his 11th season with the Dallas Cowboys.

"If I m not ready now, I don't know what I m going to do, because camp is coming quick," Witten said. "Obviously, we're very excited about it. I think it's been that way for the last couple of years, but two years at 8-8, close in a lot of ways, but we've got to get over the hump. Nothing we say is going to do that. We've got to go and earn it."

Playing in the Hall of Fame game will give the team an extra week of training camp, extra work this veteran hopes will be beneficial to the team.

"Any time you can get that extra work especially with the shortened off season, you're getting time," Witten said. "31 other teams aren't going to be practicing so we'll be smart and hopefully get better from that. I'm excited to get going."

He should be, after becoming the career reception leader for the franchise last year.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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