Bringing the Holiday Spirit to East Side Elementary

The weather outside was frightful, but the mood at East Side Elementary was nothing but delightful.

As wintry weather shuffled into Oklahoma City on Friday, Thunder players Kendrick Perkins and Ryan Gomes huddled into the school’s art room to greet a second grade class and to read them a book as a part of the Thunder’s Reading Timeout program, sponsored by American Fidelity. It wasn’t just any book, however. The Thunder duo read a holiday classic – Dr. Seuss’, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”.

As the Thunder celebrates the winter months with its Holiday Assist program, Perkins and Gomes couldn’t think of a better way to help local children get into the holiday spirit than to read such a timeless childhood staple.

“I can remember a couple years that I probably was the Grinch myself,” Perkins joked. “It’s a classic book, and going through school, everybody has to read that book. It’s a must.”

“It was a fun day at East Side despite the bad weather outside,” American Fidelity’s National Account Representative Roy Bishop said. “Kendrick and Ryan really warmed everybody up. It’s truly a blessing to have two people like that will come out and share a story with second graders.”

Rapt with attention, the previously boisterous second graders were quieter than the mice in Seuss’ story when Perkins and Gomes took turns reading each page of the book.

After the story ended, the students had a chance to ask the Thunder pair a number of questions, ranging from their daily inspiration to their history with basketball. Tammeria Fade, East Side’s PE teacher, organized the event, kept it a secret and was busting with joy at how much her students enjoyed the afternoon event.

“You saw how quiet they were,” Fade said. “My second graders are never that quiet…They were totally pumped and totally enthralled by Kendrick and Ryan.”

At the end of the afternoon, the students recited the Reading Pledge, and each one received a Thunder backpack. Smiles abounded at East Side Elementary, and the event was a wonderful treat for students and faculty alike since the school is moving locations after this year.

Perkins and Gomes, each of whom have young children of their own, were excellent representatives for the Thunder in the community as they spoke to the students with the patience, honesty and kindness of a parent. With Thanksgiving around the corner and the holiday season just a few weeks after that, the Thunder duo wanted to make sure each student had a bright day even amidst the wintry weather.

Spending time with the youngest generation of Thunder fans and those who educate them is always a treat for the Thunder, and the chance to kick-start the holiday season with such a special event was even more rewarding.

‘You never know what children may be going through in a day, so just to make them smile and encourage them to do the right thing, is a blessing,” Perkins said.

“We have the best fans and they always support us 110 percent,” Perkins continued. “I wish we could do more, but with the schedule that we have, we can’t. Anytime we have the opportunity to give back to the fans and the community, we take advantage of it, because the way they support us is unbelievable.”