Professional Football Hall-of-Famer Will Shields has been promoting literacy at one local elementary school for more than two decades, and ROR-KC was once again a lucky recipient of his generosity in May. The former Kansas City Chiefs lineman spent the day at Meadow Lane Elementary in Olathe with our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs, helping to collect books for ROR-KC.
Meadow Lane challenges students to read for at least 200 days each school year. Those that do receive a book, and many children donate that new book to ROR-KC. Shields says literacy is a special cause for him and for his Will to Succeed Foundation.
“To build up self-esteem you have to have knowledge and understand what you’re doing and if you can’t read or write…then you don’t have that knowledge base, so you can’t learn anymore.” — Will Shields
The fifth-graders who read at least 200 days also get a pizza party with Will, and the opportunity to get his autograph. 5th grader Michael McKeever (pictured to the left of Shields) was thrilled to meet the athlete. “He’s actually a pretty cool guy! He went to a ton of different tables, to meet everyone and hang out with everyone.” Fellow 5th grader Jonathan Mudd (pictured to the right of Shields) agreed. “Mr. Shields is really, really nice – outgoing and easy to talk to.” Both boys said Suzanne Collins’s Gregor the Overlander series was the best thing they read during their 200 days (our Communications Coordinator agrees that it’s a great middle grade series).
“I love that the culture at Meadow Lane School is all about encouraging students to read,” says ROR-KC’s Janice Dobbs,”and that they teach their students about giving back to the community.” Meadow Lane also holds an assembly, where all 400-plus students perform a fun song about the importance of reading and Shields throws autographed foam footballs to the fifth-graders. “Reading is the most important thing we do,” says Meadow Lane Principal Brian Lowe, “and we try to make it fun for the kids. This is the best day of the year as far as I’m concerned.”
The school also holds a book drive for Reach Out and Read KC, and this year collected over 1,200 books for us! Thank you, Meadow Lane and Will Shields!
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