NFL players make reading fun

Published 9:01 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For a pro football player and a big, floppy turtle named Franklin, reading was fun Wednesday.

Sponsored by the Zeta Eta Omega Chapter Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., RIF’s Reading is Fun Kickoff entertained 250 children Wednesday at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center.

One highlight of the event was the reading of “Franklin Goes to School” by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and Selma native Ben Obomanu, while Franklin sat next to him in a rocking chair.

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Then, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson told the crowded convention center about the value of learning to read. Johnson was a standout player at Dallas County High and Georgia Tech before being drafted this year.

Alpha Kappa Alpha president Juanda Maxwell said the efforts of Obomanu and Johnson contributed to the large number of children who attended the event.

“We knew we’d bring in a big crowd with these local players,” she said.

The students received summer reading books, and Obomanu and Johnson graciously signed every student’s book. They also posed for photos with the students, parents and event organizers.

Johnson, whose high school football field at Dallas County was dedicated to him, said he was excited to be able to help the program.

“Whenever they want to be there, wherever they want me to go,” Johnson said. “I believe in this city and I believe in the people here.”

Also reading to the younger students at the event was Labarron Mack, the District Uniserv director.

Book characters also entertained the children. They included Franklin the Turtle, Big Clifford, Little Clifford and Curious George.