With book in hand before the boy dismounted the steps to exit the bus, his eyes sparked with excitement on his cherubic face as he declared, “This is the best day of my life!”
The young student had his arms raised in celebration with the same fervor of knocking down a buzzer beater.
Sitting behind the wheel, this moment of triumph drew a chuckle from Thunder guard Semaj Christon who knew the feeling after draining a shot right before the horn sounded from beyond half court during his rookie season.
“It’s funny seeing the kids run to the bus to find a book as fast as possible,” said Christon. “Seeing them having fun, we get to put a smile on their face.”
Along with Christon, Thunder forward Josh Huestis delivered some reading material and fun to 100 third-graders at Orvis Risner Elementary on the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, presented by American Fidelity.
The Thunder teammates spent Thursday afternoon with these young bookworms mining for their favorites to take home for the day.
Rolling Thunder Book Bus Makes Surprise Stop
Beyond doling out a steady stream of high-fives and bookmarks, Huestis recognized the subtext of the surprise stop was all about leveraging their equity as Thunder players to yield lifelong book lovers.
“If we can come in here and show that we support reading, I think that’s huge especially at this age,” said Huestis. “The kids look up to athletes. So to show them we read to build good habits shows the importance of reading.”
For Stefanie Pattillo, assistant principal at Orvis Risner Elementary, having her students work with the Thunder tag team and talk about their favorite titles paid dividends for literacy.
“These Thunder players mean a lot to them,” said Pattillo. “For the Thunder to advocate for their reading is important because it sets a great example for the students.”
Sending the kids home with a book along with some memories, Christon and Huestis relished the opportunity to give back to the community in a unique way.
“They’ll go home and tell their parents about it,” said Christon. “It’s something a lot of people don’t get to do.”