All of the summer campers at Friends Academy in Locust Valley gathered around awe-struck as they got ready to listen to the imposing 6'4 figure, Joel Rechlicz. The Islander tough guy sat down and showed his compassionate side as he read them the children's novel "Brady Brady and the Runaway Goalie."
Rechlicz, along with TD Bank's Eric Fishon wanted to let the kids know just how important reading is, and how important it is to continue reading during the summer.
"It's a program that we've done annually," Fishon said. "We work with different libraries, camps and organizations such as the Islanders. It's an opportunity for the kids to read over the summer and if they read ten books, they can go online to TDBank.com, enter the books that they've read and they’ll get $10 entered into their bank account. Even if they're not a customer, we'll open up a free Young Savers Account for them and give them $10 as well."
Once Rechlicz completed the book, he made sure that the children knew the moral of the story, which was to never give up and always try their best no matter how hard things may seem.
|Joel Rechlicz reading to the campers at Friends Academy. |
Afterwards, the children, whose ages ranged from three to eight years old, were able to ask questions of the Islander forward. The children asked questions such as how long he's been playing hockey, what position he plays, and how many years he's been with the Islanders.
"I thought the kids and their questions were great," Rechlicz said. "They're obviously very curious about a lot of things which I think is great. I had a great time answering each and every one of their questions. They're just so cute and it was great to be around them."
After reading and asking questions of Rechlicz, the campers were treated to the Islanders I.C.E Tour, which is made up of interactive games and activities. The team’s official mascot, Sparky was also in attendance. Rechlicz also took time to sign autographs and meet each individual camper.
“I thought today was fantastic," Fishon said. "It's great when you bring a player out and the kids get to see them off the ice, just being like them and especially reading to them and showing them that reading is important.”
The Summer Reading Program presented by TD Bank, the official bank of the New York Islanders, is just one of the many ways the bank and the Islanders give back to their community.
"We do a huge amount of sponsorships all year long," Fishon said. "The Summer Reading Program is one of them, but we also do the Hometown Hero program as well where we bring people out who have made a difference in their community and we highlight them at an Islander home game."
As the day came to a close, all of the campers gathered around Rechlicz and Sparky for a group photo.
"It's always really exciting to spend some time with them because they really look up to you and they think you're one of the greatest things in the world," Rechlicz said. "I had a lot of fun reading with them this morning. It’s a great feeling when you can give back to the community, especially the kids.”