MADISON, Wis. — At 6-foot-3, Wisconsin football player Warren Herring is hard to miss. Add an extra foot in the form of a red and white striped hat and his presence is unmistakable.
Herring and six of his fellow Badgers clad in Dr. Suess hats made quite an impact at the first of more than 15 Read Across America Day celebrations that UW student-athletes will take part in over a two-week period.
Football player Austin Hudson, golfer Thomas O’Bryan, women’s rowers Stephanie Malchine and Kelsey Kramer and women’s tennis players Lauren Burich and Lauren Chypyha attended the first visit on Feb. 24 at Prairie View Elementary School, where they read books with students and engaged in other games promoting literacy.
“The kids were all so eager to read with us, whether it was a Dr. Seuss book or one of our Bucky books,” Chypyha said. “It was great to see how excited they all were.”
The visit to Prairie Elementary was just a warm-up, however, for the 10-school tour Badgers student-athletes will take part in on Monday — national Read Across America Day.
“Forty-five student-athletes from nine different sports are signed up to appear on Monday,” said Kayla Gross, UW Athletics Community Relations Coordinator. “Promoting literacy is important to them and they jumped at the chance to don the beloved Dr. Suess hats and visit local schools.”
The Badgers’ Read Across America Day efforts are part of the department’s larger effort to promote literacy. Many of the schools receiving visits are part of Badgers Give Back’s “Bookin’ It With Bucky” program, a program that pairs student-athletes with local fourth-grade classrooms to help achieve a set reading goal.
Through the program, the Badgers have become fixtures in 25 classrooms across Dane County.
“Student-athletes have been visiting schools through the Bookin’ It With Bucky program for more than 10 years,” Gross said. “This year we have reached a record number of schools and I really attribute that to our student-athletes. They are really committed to promoting literacy and are eager to get involved.”
Literacy efforts will also be a primary focus of the annual Wisconsin Football Spring Game, with all proceeds benefiting the UW School of Education and its ongoing efforts to promote literacy.
Fans can catch an early glimpse of Head Coach Gary Andersen’s 2014 Badgers while also providing support to the School of Education at the game, which is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, at Camp Randall Stadium. Tickets are on sale for $5 online at UWBadgers.com or by calling 1-800-GO-BADGERS. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office.
Fans can follow along with the Badgers’ Read Across America Day effort on Twitter by following @UWBadgers and #BadgersGiveBack.