One Special Day at Santa Fe

Some of the same Santa Fe South Elementary students who saw Kevin Durant and Lazar Hayward walk the court of their gymnasium on Thursday had stayed up late to watch those players in action on NBA courts the two nights before.

Though they may have watched the games on television with intensity, seeing Durant and Hayward in person excited them even more.

“My little boy is a Thunder fan, so I know these kids are Thunder fans,” said Santa Fe South Schools Superintendent Chris Brewster, whose third-grade son was one of the students who got to board the Rolling Thunder Book Bus that afternoon. “He was so anxious last night he almost got sick in the last few seconds of the game.

“Today was the same kind of thing. They were just giddy because they do think this is their team … It’s thrilling for them to be here.”

Durant and Hayward helped students on the Book Bus select a title to take home, then came back into the gym to take photos with the kids.

“We walk in here, and their eyes just light up,” said Hayward. “That just kind of warms your heart.”

Principal Kim Figueroa, who works with these children every day, knows why her students were so excited for the visit.

“Most of our kids don’t have any opportunity to go to basketball games, let alone a professional game, so they got to see the professional players up close … It’s an opportunity my kids may never have again in a lifetime,” she said.

Durant and Hayward could testify that the children took advantage of this chance to meet the players.

“I got a couple hugs from girls, some kisses,” Durant said with a half-smile.

On the Book Bus, he remarked, “This is a cool little place, man. It’s nice to see all the kids who come in here and choose from a variety of books … It’s a blessing that I got this opportunity.”

Hayward added that the kids “will think about this for days, maybe even months. For us to take a little bit of time, and just to see that smile – to see how happy they are – it makes us feel really good.”

In addition to the books from the bus, Durant gave each child a backpack to enhance their school experience.

Though the players add some excitement, they and the school staff all realize that the long-term impact for these children will be knowing that literacy is important, and not just because their teachers or parents say so.

“The encouragement that a role model like these athletes provides for kids for literacy is powerful,” Brewster said. “It affirms what our teachers and kids have been working on, so we’re very grateful that these guys came out. […]

“I found out today that this Book Bus is only one of two in the NBA, and I’m thrilled that it exists in our city.”

Presented by American Fidelity Assurance Company, the Rolling Thunder Book Bus visits schools and community programs throughout the Oklahoma City area, allowing children access to a free book. For more information on this program, please CLICK HERE.