Thursday, December 12, 2013 6:02 PM
Photo by Daniel Kucin. Washington Redskins wide receiver Joshua Morgan has all hands in for a chant Sept. 25 at the "Redskins Read Book Challenge" at FedEx Field, where 200 Prince George's County students met players and toured the Landover stadium.
Published on: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
By Daniel Kucin
You rarely have the opportunity to see NFL players let their guards down and show their more sensitive sides as well as expressing their inner-child personalities.
However, last Tuesday the Washington Redskins’ charitable foundation in conjunction with Prince George’s County Public Schools and NRG Energy gave more than 200 local children the opportunity to meet their gridiron heroes in person at FedEx Field in Landover.
Each elementary school student to read 10 or more books during the course of the 2012-2013 school year while participating in the “Redskins Read Book Challenge” were selected to meet wide receiver Joshua Morgan and cornerback Josh Wilson. The students were also entered in a drawing to receive prizes for their hard work and dedication to reading.
As the students eagerly awaited entering the stadium, NRG Solutions President Tom Gros explained to the children how solar energy works and how it powers 100 percent of the stadium on non-game days.
Photo by Daniel Kucin. Morgan reads "The Busy Body Book: A Kid's Guide to Fitness" by Lizzy Rockwell to the students.
Inside the stadium, the first of six different reading stations was near the front of the stadium behind “Solar Man” — a 30-foot sculpture that shows how green renewable energy can protect the environment and spread awareness to all.
Around 11 a.m., Morgan greeted the children and read aloud “The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness” by Lizzy Rockwell. Morgan was captivated by how all of the children responded to this workshop as he reminisced growing up in the metropolitan area as a child.
“It’s another way for them to be excited about learning. It is definitely exciting and a blessing for me to be here doing this,” Morgan said. “It’s a blessing to see their faces, and it brings you down to Earth cause they are so innocent and it is positive to the community.”
Morgan added that working with children and the community was something that he has been working for his whole life.
Photo by Daniel Kucin. Upper Marlboro native and Washinton Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson and his mother, Valanda Wilson, also read to students at the "Redskins Read Book Challenge."
The youngsters also visited the Redskins’ locker room, where DeMatha graduate Josh Wilson was waiting to meet them.
Growing up in Upper Marlboro, Wilson was an all-met high school star, and All-WCAC first team member as well as a part of the All-Prince George’s County team during his tenure at DeMatha.
Wilson had some help reading. The cornerback was accompanied by his wife, Jasmine Wilson, and his mother,Valanda Wilson.
“This is something that means a lot to me because they are me 10 or 15 years ago sitting here in awe of this athlete taking the time out of his day to read to me,” Wilson said. “When the Redskins asked if anyone wanted to do this, there was no question that I wanted to be a part of it.”
Wilson joked to reporters that when kids his age were trading Jordans, he was trading “Goosebumps” books. The Redskin player also said reading has been beneficial to his life and that literacy is key to everyone’s lifestyle.
As the children rounded the stadium, including the press box and the Redskins cheerleaders’ locker rooms, their fun and inspirational experience came to a close.
“I think this is a wonderful event. It is good for them to see that there are important people in the world who enjoy reading,” said Dana Tutt, principal of William Beanes Elementary School in Suitland.
“The only thing they get to see on television is the roles in their career, but behind the scenes a lot of stars and athletes read for enjoyment, so it’s really important for children to see that adults do a lot of reading as well … The community embraces what they are learning and are investing in their future.”