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Ovechkin cereal tour delights Capitals fans

Forward's surprise visit to school, hospital, grocery store helps unveil Ovi O's

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin gave a classroom of second-graders a sweet and memorable surprise.

Vicky Flynt's class at Arlington Traditional School had just finished lunch on Tuesday when the Washington Capitals forward burst through the open door, pushing a shopping cart full of cereal boxes.

"Hi kids, I think it's breakfast time for you," Ovechkin said. "You want some Ovi O's?"

Thus began a three-stop surprise tour to launch Ovi O's cereal. Produced in conjunction with Giant Food, the honey nut cereal featuring a smiling Ovechkin on the box will be available in Giant stores in Washington, along as well as Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, beginning Sept. 17.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of Ovi O's will benefit the Maryland-based Children's Cancer Foundation, Inc., a non-profit that funds local researchers, programs and facilities.

"I think it was a pretty cool idea. I think it works well and I hope we're going to help lots of kids in our community," the Capitals captain said after the tour, which also included stops at the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and a Washington Giant store, where Ovechkin worked a cash register.

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At the school, about a half-mile from the Capitals practice rink, the second graders, once over their initial shock, rushed up and were each given a box of Ovi O's.

Ovechkin sat down at an empty seat and started doing a math worksheet and talking with the children. Though Batman is listed as Ovi's favorite super hero on the back of the cereal box, the girl next to him said she preferred the Avengers.

After bowls of Ovi O's were distributed, Ovechkin took questions from around the room.
Queries from the kids included: "Have you always wanted your own cereal?" "Yes, it's like a [being] a super hero." "Who is your favorite player besides yourself?" "Nicklas Backstrom."

Ovechkin, who said he ate a lot of cereal growing up and when he first came to the United States, handed out autographed pictures to the class and signed a jersey brought in by Flynt before departing.

At the clinic in Georgetown, where Ovechkin also brought the Stanley Cup last summer, he was greeted by hugs when he entered on Tuesday. He sat at a table with seven kids and dished out cereal and milk. 

One group of children showed Ovechkin a clay model of an ice rink, featuring him scoring a goal, and he promptly signed it for them. Ovechkin autographed cereal boxes and Capitals memorabilia and posed for selfies. The kids at the table provided some positive feedback on the cereal.

"They're really great," one boy offered.

Then it was on to the grocery store, where Ovechkin donned a Giant work T-shirt with an "Ovi" name tag included. First, he stocked the cereal shelf -- aisle eight appropriately -- with three cases of Ovi O's.

He then headed up front where, with some help, he worked a cash register as customers purchased Ovi O's and other items.

"It was tough. Obviously the first couple of times I was nervous," he said of the checkout work.

Ovechkin signed the boxes and posed for photos in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

"I got off work and drove here," Mary Ford of Annapolis, Maryland, said after buying two boxes and meeting Ovechkin for the first time. "It's really cool. It's exceptional."

Ovechkin ran into trouble when a woman showed up in line with a shopping cart full of produce.

"OK, how are we going to do this?" Ovechkin asked his co-worker, who talked him through it.

The woman pushing the cart was Ovechkin's wife, Anastasia.

Ovechkin was later asked if as a kid he ever thought he would have his own cereal.

"No, not even close," he said. "But we're here right now and we're helping kids and it's a good thing."

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