LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) — New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings made a stop in Lynchburg Tuesday morning in an effort to motivate students to read.
The NFL player visited Dearington Elementary School for Innovation to talk to students, including third through fifth graders who took part in his reading challenge through the the Rashad Jennings Foundation.
The goal of the program is to get students excited about reading.
“I always say that it’s an awesome responsibility actually being a professional athlete because there’s nothing special about us. We’re just in special positions. So every time we get to unmasked ourselves and shine a light to things that we feel are important we should take full advantage of that. It’s always humbling to come back home and do it where you’re from.”
Jennings, who was born and raised in Forest, says it’s important to give back. He describes it as “an awesome responsibility” to give back and be able to motivate kids.
“Hard work, dedication, love, prayer, prayers by family and people who believed in me before I knew who I was are the reasons why I can give back to the community. I know every time I go to speak to a kid I’m either planting a seed or watering the seed. I’m trying to do my part.”
Dearington students have been reading and earning points and competing for prizes. Winners received Jennings’ game worn and autographed footwear.
Jennings’ visit to see and talk to the the students in person capped off the challenge.
The school presented Jennings with a special DESI t-shirt and a book of essays and artwork from the students in grades K-5.
The school also received books donated from former NFL player Tim Green. Jennings said he and Green, an author, linebacker, and former first round draft pick with the Atlanta Falcons bumped into each other because “he has a passion to give back and read.”
The two partnered with Green donating books and Jennings issuing the challenge.
“It’s always fun and exciting to see the kids smile and get enthused about reading because of a simple challenge,” Jennings said.
Jennings says he also tries to encourage teachers during his visits. “They are the real heroes,” he said.