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It started with a desire to play fantasy football, but toward the end of the 2012 NFL season, a boy from Indian Head won a very real contest that will take him to the Super Bowl.

Hunter Paulin, 10, was the grand prize winner of the NFL Play 60 Super Bowl Contest, which means he gets to go to Super Bowl XLVII and hand off the game ball to an official before the game, among other prizes.

Paulin said he and his mom happened on the contest through the NFL Rush website, the NFL’s official website for children, when looking for a kid-friendly fantasy football opportunity.

It was through the site that he read about NFL Play 60 and signed up for the Super Bowl Contest sponsored by the Quaker cereal company.

NFL Play 60 is a challenge for children to get active for 60 minutes a day.

Hunter said he stays active for more than 60 minutes a day; he loves to play outside.

For the contest, children ages 6 to 13 were asked to explain how they help power their play with nourishing food and exercise.

Contestants were asked to write about which NFL player or players on their local team inspire them.

Hunter chose Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

“Robert Griffin III inspires me because he plays football and is a good runner and throws really good,” Hunter explained in his application essay.

Hunter wrote that Griffin runs daily and stays fit. He also wrote that Griffin was a good student and is “a good person on the field and in the community.”

In a later interview, Hunter said he and Griffin are alike in the sense that they both stay active and healthy and also help out in the community.

Hunter said that after the derecho storm in July, he helped support the Washington, D.C., Ronald McDonald House by collecting food from neighbors and friends.

He also plans to get a team together for Team Hunter to run in a 5K on April 14 to benefit the Pediatric Heart Unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital. His mom, Wendy Paulin, said that is Hunter’s heart hospital.

“I’m going to try to get [Baltimore Raven] Ray Lewis to do it with me,” he said.

Hunter addressed his heart condition, Shone’s complex, in the contest, explaining that while his problems keep him from contact sports, he finds other ways to stay active.

“I have six congenital heart defects and have had many surgeries. I found other things that I can do to stay active like capture the flag, golf in my yard, play two-hand touch with my brothers, dancing and tennis,” Hunter wrote.

He also included in his response a memory of riding on the Indian Head Rail Trail with his family. They rode a total of 26 miles.

The final question was about how eating right helps power play. Hunter wrote that he eats a lot of fruits and vegetables and stays away from sodas as much as possible.

“Sugar only makes you hyper and tired afterwards. Vegetables and fruit helps your body by fighting off germs and helping you see farther and run faster with its vitamins,” he wrote.

As the grand prize winner, Hunter won a trip for four to Super Bowl XLVII, tickets to the NFL Experience and NFL Play 60 Kids Day, airfare and hotel accommodations for six nights.

Hunter said as part of being the grand prize winner, he was able to go to a Washington Redskins game and go to their practice facilities to play football with and meet some players.

He said that when he got to play on the field during practice, he accidentally ran into a cameraman. Hunter said he liked that he had a chance to eat lunch with linebacker London Fletcher, and he was able to get an autographed glove from Griffin. Hunter also has gloves from tight end Chris Cooley.

“At the Redskins [vs.] Dallas game, I wore those gloves,” Hunter said of himself and his brother, Brandon, wearing the players’ gloves while watching the game.

Hunter said he remembered a quick conversation with one of his favorite players, tailback Alfred Morris.

Hunter shouted to him, “See you at the Super Bowl,” to which he said Morris responded by saying he liked Hunter’s attitude.

Hunter said he likes Morris because of his running speed: “It really helps the Redskins,” he said.

Wendy Paulin said her son is very active and outgoing and that the whole experience for him has been wonderful.

His father, James Paulin, admitted that football is not one of his interests.

But of seeing how happy his son has been and getting an opportunity to watch his son hand off the game ball to a game official, he said, “it’s awesome.”

Hunter has been a Redskins fan for a long time and really started getting into it this year, he said.

Through the contest, Hunter learned a lot more about the sport and the franchise, saying he thought the NFL was awesome, with the exception of his team’s rival, the Dallas Cowboys.

The Super Bowl contest had 33 first-place winners who received an NFL Play 60 prize pack, which included two tickets to an upcoming game in their team’s market.

Hunter, his mother, his father and Brandon, one of his three older brothers, left for New Orleans on Tuesday and will meet and spend time with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

The family and Hunter, while all Redskins’ fans, will be cheering for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to the moment he takes the football out on the field,” Wendy Paulin said.

gphillips@somdnews.com