Adams, Roberson Kickstart Book Bus

Thunder training camp may still be a couple of weeks away, but on Thursday, the organization got its 2013-14 season started out in the Oklahoma City community with its first player appearance.

At Gatewood Elementary in Oklahoma City on Thursday afternoon, rookies Steven Adams and Andre Roberson made their first visits on the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, presented by American Fidelity Assurance Company. The young duo was energetic, engaging and talkative with the third and fourth graders who jumped on the bus to receive a free book, a wristband and bookmark. Not only did the students come away with a nice prize, but the pair of Thunder rookies enjoyed their time too.

“It was awesome fun giving them books, seeing the smiles on their faces and bringing joy to them,” Adams said. “It’s such a great community. I always feel like I have to give back. It’s a huge honor really, to be able to come to an elementary school and give them free books.”

Students lined up patiently, but with excitement nearly bubbling over as they awaited their turn to display their Thunder gear to the players, get a chapter book to read and an autograph from the two new Thunder players. Leah Anderson, Gatewood Elementary’s principal, has had plenty of experience with the Thunder’s Book Bus program and the visit with players has become an integral part of the way her teachers encourage her students to read.

“The players are so fantastic with the kids and they take the time to speak with each one of them,” Anderson said. “The students love it. They think about it all year long. It’s something they never forget.”

“It was just so fun because we got to see the new players on the Thunder bus,” a seven-year old third grader named Wyatt said. “It was just so awesome… They gave me a high-five and they helped me pick out a book.”

Adams and Roberson are both first round picks from the 2013 NBA Draft who attended the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado, respectively. Their status as professional athletes helps students like those at Gatewood Elementary have a positive role model they can look up to. The pair of rookies spent the afternoon helping students find the exact book that would spark their imagination and then encouraging them to read their new books as soon as they got home.

“A book can catch the eye of some of these kids and they’ll start picking up books more often,” Roberson. “That’s great, and it helps them with the rest of their lives. Books are a part of gaining knowledge and it’ll be great for them.”

“It’s huge to get them when they’re young too, get them in the habit of reading,” Adams said. “I kept recommending Captain Underpants because I’m a huge fan of that. Andre was doing a great job as well.”

Whether it was Goosebumps, Junie B. Jones or the series Adams was pushing, Captain Underpants, the kids at Gatewood Elementary had the opportunity to select from the hundreds of titles the book boss offers. In fact, Thursday’s trip helped push the total number of free books given to Oklahoma students to over 73,000 over the past five years. With the help of American Fidelity Assurance Company, represented by Roy Bishop, National Accounts Representative, the Thunder hopes to inspire young minds to read, learn and grow. Thursday’s Gatewood Elementary visit was the first of the season and the first for Adams and Roberson, but it is a continuation of the effort both organizations will put forth in the community throughout the year.

“We have a tremendous relationship with the Oklahoma City Thunder and American Fidelity,” Bishop said. “We’re proud to be a part of bringing reading to the Oklahoma City kids as the Thunder is as well. We’re looking forward to another year of making our rounds all across the metro area and bringing smiles to kids’ faces.”