Hayward: 'Anything With Kids ... Brings Me Happiness'

Schoolchildren across Oklahoma have spent almost as much time with Thunder forward Lazar Hayward as fans have seen him on the court.

Since joining the team in December, Hayward has already made two community appearances – both aboard the Rolling Thunder Book Bus. On Friday, Hayward and the bus rolled up to Santa Fe South Elementary in south Oklahoma City, giving out books to kids in all grade levels.

“Now I feel more comfortable. Now I feel I should just take this bus and ride along with it,” joked Hayward about his second book-bus experience.

He quickly made himself at home on the bus, taking up his perch on the wheel well in the middle of the shelves full of books. Then he worked to make sure every child achieved the same comfort level as they climbed aboard.

Hayward proved tireless in helping kids look for the books they wanted – including an exhaustive search for one of the “Captain Underpants” books – and in responding to any and all other requests the students had.

“Anything with kids, for me, just brings me happiness,” he noted, “just to see the smile on their face.”

Plenty of smiles lit up the faces of the students on the bus, both from the joy of meeting one of the Thunder’s players and from the joy of going home with a book of their own.

“Studies show that an early love of reading and commitment to it will benefit you greatly in life, and we want those kids to have that experience,” said Roy Bishop of American Fidelity Assurance Company, presenting sponsor of the Rolling Thunder Book Bus.

“This might be their first opportunity to get their first book,” he added – and the kids’ excitement for that was not lost on Hayward.

No request was too small for the Thunder player, and no opportunity for a picture or a high-five went unfulfilled. Hayward spent nearly as much time giving hugs and posing for pictures as he did handing out books – something that will surely impact the children as they take the books home to read.

“Just to come and enjoy a book, or just to meet someone like me, they’re just very, very genuinely happy, so that really touches me,” he added.

The Rolling Thunder Book Bus, presented by American Fidelity, has made nearly 600 visits across the community and has distributed more than 46,000 books to Oklahoma children. For more information on the book bus, CLICK HERE.