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"Reading Millionaires" Honored At Women's Basketball Game

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Feb. 4, 2010

"Husky Reach", the community service program of the UConn Division of Athletics, concluded the second year of its reading initiative on Tuesday night with the Verplanck Elementary School in Manchester, Conn.

This year's program was called "The Reading Millionaires Plus: A Roaring Reading Challenge". At the beginning of the school year, UConn student-athletes extended a challenge to this year's Verplanck students, encouraging them to top the mark of one million minutes of reading that was accomplished in 2008-09.

The students met that goal and the fourth and fifth graders of Verplanck earned a trip to the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday night to see the UConn vs. West Virginia women's basketball game.

Prior to the game, the students spent time with UConn student-athletes discussing the types of books that they read and what books they enjoyed. The Verplanck students then did a variety of arts and crafts, sports activities and also played in a Bounce House.

Following dinner, the students then took to their seats for the game and were honored on the court and received a loud ovation.

Each student was presented a certificate by UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway.

The Verplanck students logged their minutes of reading both in school and at home. They also participated in a "Reading Buddy" component where they partnered with a student from another grade to accumulate minutes.

A special aspect of the program this year was that various teams and groups of UConn student-athletes "adopted" grades and visited with one classroom each week for six weeks.

Husky student-athletes engaged the students in discussions of important life topics such as responsibility, teamwork and time management. They also delivered books to the classrooms in an effort to continue the incredible momentum from last year's reading program.

The goal of this program was to inspire, encourage, and support a healthy interest in reading.

The "Husky Reach" program is funded by the SBM Charitable Foundation, which was established in 2000 by Connecticut Bankshares, the parent company of the former Savings Bank of Manchester. The SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc., is committed to bettering the lives of those who live and work predominately in Hartford, Windham and Tolland counties.

"We are proud to have once again brought Husky Reach to the young students of Verplanck Elementary School," says Hathaway. "The `Husky Reach' program has allowed our student-athletes to interact with the children at Verplanck and promote an enthusiasm for education. We acknowledge the special efforts of Principal Mike Saimond and the many outstanding teachers at Verplanck for supporting the efforts of our student-athletes to be positive role models for the elementary school students. In addition, we remain grateful to our friends at the SBM Charitable Foundation for their partnership, which has made our entire outreach program a reality. The SBM Charitable Foundation and our student-athletes are working together to make a tangible difference in the lives of the boys and girls at Verplanck."