NFL Hall of Famer Andre Reed pushes reading in stop at Soboba Indian Reservation

By DIANE A. RHODES | Press-Enterprise | July 3, 2019

NFL Hall of Famer Andre Reed made a stop at the Soboba Indian Reservation to launch his 30-day reading initiative known as Read with Reed 83.

The program, rally and tour designed to promote literacy for underserved youth attracted about 60 young readers to his presentation at the Soboba Sports Complex near San Jacinto on Wednesday, June 26.

Reed spent 16 seasons on the gridiron, mostly with the Buffalo Bills, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He played in four Super Bowls and ranks near the top in nearly all NFL career statistical receiving categories. While his athletic prowess had much to do with his long career, the former wide receiver shared how reading was instrumental in his career.

“One of the most important things to me was to get an education,” Reed told the group.

From his hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Reed attended Division II Kutztown College, which named its stadium for him. He created the Andre Reed Foundation in 2010 to help underprivileged children become responsible members of their communities. In 2017, the literacy challenge started, with the help of co-founder Theresa Villano, to inspire youths to see that reading is essential for ensuring a great future.

Villano and Reed were greeted with enthusiasm at the Soboba event as they presented five important things that reading can do:

  • Give you knowledge
  • Help with communication
  • Give you freedom to read whenever you want
  • Exercise your brain, which is a muscle
  • Improve your vocabulary

“It doesn’t have to be reading textbooks either; reading for fun can help with all those things,” said Reed, who lives in San Diego. “Reading gave me confidence in myself in the classroom and on the field.”

The pep rally also delivered T-shirts, socks, face guards and other giveaways to those who correctly answered questions, including those about their future career plans.

Whether they want to be professional athletes, firefighters or doctors when they get older, Reed was quick to point out why and how reading was important to every career choice.

About 40 Native American youths, ages 12 through 19, who are participating in the Summer Youth Academy pledged to read at least 30 minutes each weekday they are at the Sports Complex. Others who joined the challenge from Noli Indian School included summer session students as well as Braves’ football team members already training for the fall season.

Reed’s foundation donated 300-plus books to get Soboba readers started.

Participant Ashlyn Russell, 11, donated about 20 from her own personal library that she read when she was younger.

“I started reading in kindergarten but I read mostly chapter books now – I just like to read,” the sixth grader said. “It helps with my communication and also helps me know how to spell words correctly and learn new words.”

Ashlyn, who hopes to become a police officer, knows that reading is an important part of that job because it involves reviewing files and writing reports.

Alana Kashersky, 8, said her favorite books are from the “Pete the Cat” series. Alana, who wants to be a scientist, said reading makes her smarter. Plus, she added, she enjoys it.

The literacy challenge uses professional athletes and football to encourage kids to read each day while tracking the books they read and setting literacy goals. The program’s mission is to help youths create a habit of reading and to learn to enjoy it.

The youth group that reads the most books and exhibits leadership traits will be invited to attend a local NFL team’s game or training camp.

“The goal is to encourage kids to exercise their minds, tackle a good book and touchdown to read at least 30 minutes a day,” Reed said. “It’s my new legacy and commitment to kids like me – to make reading cool again by using pro athletes and the game of football.”

Article source: The Press Enterprise, Click here to read original article