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2010 Stick With Reading Program Kicks Off

by Julie Dobbs / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars Stick With Reading Program presented by JCPenney and MetroPCS kicked off its 2010 campaign on Wednesday with a rally at Clay Academy in Dallas, and just like the 2010-11 Dallas Stars team, this year’s Stick With Reading program has a new look.  Steve Ott is the new spokesman for the program, taking the place of longtime Stick With Reading spokesman Marty Turco.

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Video: Stick With Reading Rally
Steve shined at his first ever Stick With Reading rally, as he delivered a heartfelt speech to the children of Clay Academy about the importance of picking up a book and reading.  By the end of it, he had the room packed full of about 200 students screaming and cheering,  and most importantly, excited, to challenge themselves to read more every day.

“I’m happy to take over the Stick With Reading program from my good friend Marty Turco. Reading is so important, especially at their age, and  it helped me to get to where I am today. I read all the time, whether it’s preparing for a big game or on the plane when we’re traveling.  I also love to read to my three year old daughter Layla. It is an honor for me to be a part of such a successful and important program.”

Forwards Jamie Benn and James Neal were also there to support Steve in his new role and to get the children excited for the program. The event was emceed by Celena Rae, who dubbed the athletes as “Tater Totter”, “Nilly Willy”, and “Bennie Bennie Boo Boo” for the day. The three players led the entire school in a reading of  “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, with Tater Totter as the reader, and Nilly Willy as the page turner. After that, the students got involved in a question and answer session with the players that included questions ranging from, “How does reading help you to play hockey?” to “What is your favorite book?”

Half Price Books is one of the program’s sponsors this year, and they were on hand to donate 2000 books to the Clay Academy Library.  The kids could not wait to get their hands on them and start reading.

“Half Price Books understands we need to get children reading early in their lives and often. Having the Dallas Stars players as reading advocates will get the children excited about reading. We were thrilled they were so enthusiastic.” said Kathy Thomas, Executive Vice President of Half Price Books.

Julie Berkhouse, Senior Community Relations Manager at JCPenney was also in attendance and shared in the excitement.  “JCPenney has a century-long history of giving back to our communities, and youth development is a big part of our philanthropic focus. We are committed to programs that inspire kids to be smart, strong and socially responsible, and Stick With Reading fits perfectly with our focus.”

Stick With Reading is an eight-week program that was established in 1998 to encourage Dallas-area kids to develop the habit of reading in their free time. Students record their reading minutes and are rewarded at the end of the program with various incentives, including a private meet-and-greet with Steve Ott for one lucky reader in each age group. The program will begin on Monday October 18 and will run through December 12. This year, more than 25,000 students are registered, which is the largest amount of participants to date.

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