Robert Griffin III (left) and Bailee Begnoche, of Waco, talk to participants about the importance of nutrition at the second annual Salute to Fitness.

Staff photo— Michael Bancale

Robert Griffin III doesn’t get many opportunities nowadays to return to the city where he rose to fame.

But when the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback does make an appearance in Waco, he makes sure it’s for a good cause.

The former Baylor star hosted his Salute to Fitness for the second straight year on Saturday at the Ferrell Center, welcoming fans of all ages for an afternoon of education on fitness and nutrition.

The event helps support Griffin’s Family of 3 initiative, which helps raise money for struggling military families and at-risk youth.

“Baylor’s always home, Texas is always home,” said Griffin, who has spent four seasons with Washington Redskins since they drafted him in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. “Being up in the D.C. for most of the year, I don’t get to see a lot of people. So when I come back, it’s always familiar faces and you kind of pick up where you left off.

“To be able to come back and have fun with them and give back to the community with these people is truly special, and near and dear to my heart.”

Griffin didn’t answer questions regarding his future in the NFL, which is set to see big changes this offseason.

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen announced last Tuesday that Griffin is likely to be playing elsewhere next season, a confirmation of what had been speculated since early January. Washington is looking to trade him before March 9, when the 2016 NFL season officially begins.

The Copperas Cove native and 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year has been rumored to be part of trade talks with multiple teams.

Once one of the nation’s premier college quarterbacks at Baylor, Griffin has struggled with injuries throughout his NFL career.

Griffin was expected to start for the Redskins in 2015 but was sidelined with a concussion during a preseason game. Kirk Cousins started the rest of the year for Washington.

Griffin at Saturday’s event appeared healthy, joining the younger attendees in the exercising drills.

“It’s fun to see them having fun and learning a little bit about nutrition,” he said. “It’s really hard to get a kid to pay attention, truly, about something like that. But I think we did a decent job of that.

“But to have their parents here and be able to affect who’s putting the food in their house and in the fridge, I think that can go a really long way. So we want to combat childhood obesity, and I enjoy just running around and having fun with the kids.”

Proceeds from Salute to Fitness help support remodeling a Waco home for a military veteran.

Griffin grew up with two parents in the military. He was born in Japan and lived in multiple U.S. cities before graduating from Copperas Cove High School and then attending Baylor.

“It’s great to have all the people out,” Griffin said. “They get to give back by helping us help wounded military vets and building homes for them. But they also get to help themselves by trying to learn more and more about healthy lifestyles. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. I feel like they got a little taste of that today.”

Griffin had yet to visit the Bears football team, which began spring practices earlier this week, but said he has stayed in touch with quarterback Seth Russell, who has returned to the field after undergoing neck surgery during the 2015 season.

“He’s kept his faith, he’s leaned on God, and God has brought him back to a point where he can actually get back on the field,” Griffin said. “Not a lot of people thought that would happen.

“So that’s truly special to see, and I was glad to be able to be a part of that and be a mentor for him.”

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