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Browns celebrate reading with students

Posted Dec 5, 2012

NORTH ROYALTON -- Alex Mack and Johnson Bademosi visited North Royalton Middle School to celebrate their winning the Cleveland Browns’ 2012 Touchdown for Reading Challenge.

NORTH ROYALTON -- The Cleveland Browns held their annual fall Touchdown for Reading program once again this year through a partnership with the Cuyahoga County Library. One-hundred fifty-two students who participated in the program from North Royalton Middle School were recognized with a visit from center Alex Mack and defensive back Johnson Bademosi on Tuesday morning as their school was crowned the top school in the program.

Mack and Bademosi talked about the importance of reading with the students, who logged 139,000 minutes during the 11-week program. In addition to the visit, the Browns provided prizes for the top readers, who were recognized for excelling in the reading program.

“Touchdown for Reading continues to grow,” said Renee Harvey, vice president of community outreach for the Browns. “We’re in a few more counties this year than in the past. I think the word has gotten out about the success of the program, how much fun it is and how easy it is, which I think is important. Our hope is the minutes of reading for each student continues to grow for each student as they progress through life and that they really do earn an appreciation for reading.”

Jeff Cicerchi, assistant principal at North Royalton Middle School added, “It’s a phenomenal opportunity for our students. Hearing them talk about reading and the importance of it means something to the kids. It takes it to that next level. This morning, when someone asked me where they went to school, I quickly looked it up online and I saw Cal and I saw Stanford. Right there, you can’t have two better athletes talking about why school is important. The proof is in the pudding there.”

Mack said that reading helped him better organize his time during his college career at the University of California-Berkeley.

“Reading is important, especially at the college level,” Mack said. “No longer do you have teachers assigning you homework. They just give you reading to do and you’re responsible for it. The better you are at getting through material and retaining knowledge as you read, the more successful you’re going to be in school and in life.

“The combination of school, football, going to Cal and having to excel in both the classroom and the field enabled me to be successful at the NFL level because there’s a lot required of you. Time-management and learning your material were skills that I picked up at Cal. I think that’s helped me here at the Browns.”

Bademosi said that when he was younger, he did not fully “understand the importance of reading.”

“As I grew older, I got to a point where I felt like I was behind,” Bademosi recalled. “I was really uncomfortable in that position and then, I started attacking reading. I was the first to raise my hand to read a book in class.

“The more you read, the better you are at other things too. The more you read, the better you speak, the better you write, and a lot of kids don’t recognize the importance of that. As you grow older, it becomes really important. I feel reading early and attacking it early is very important.”

Bademosi took that love for reading that he developed in the classroom from his hometown of Silver Springs, Md. across the country to Stanford University, where he earned a degree in history.

“Reading, now, is kind of an escape for me,” Bademosi said. “I’m mostly interested in reading stuff about current events, things across the world and things that are going on in this country. I pick up the newspaper and see what’s going on. I was born in Washington, D.C., so those are where my interests lie. For me, reading keeps me updated about what’s going on around me and keeps me aware.”

Mack uses reading as a way to relax and get involved in a world of fantasy and fiction books for an hour a day.

“It’s just enjoyable,” Mack said. “I love reading because I think it’s a fun thing to do. It’s a hobby I like to do, but it’s going to help them later in life, the more they read. I’m glad they chose me to come encourage people to read because it’s going to help them later, in school and later, in life.”

All participating students received a Cleveland Browns item courtesy of Cleveland Clinic, and a treat from Panera Bread.

The Browns’ Touchdown for Reading program ran this fall, Sept. 1 through Nov. 17, in partnership with Cleveland Clinic, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Lorain Public Library System, Stark County District Library, Wadsworth Public Library and Westlake-Poster Public Library. Touchdown for Reading is an online reading program designed for readers grades K-8 to track their minutes of reading to score touchdowns for reading.