"Read and Score" Bus Tour Visits Local Schools

Chivas USA players & ChivaGirls read to local elementary schools

CARSON, Calif. (March 9, 2011) - Chivas USA embarked on a special bus tour last Friday, visiting three local elementary schools to promote the importance of reading. Aboard the school bus were members of the ChivaGirls, the ChivaFighter and players Blair Gavin, Dan Kennedy, Ben Zemanski and Zarek Valentin.

Chivas USA has always shown a strong commitment to the community, and the “Read and Score” program is an important new part of that. Now in its second year, the program encourages elementary aged kids to improve their reading. In exchange for a commitment to reading, the students are rewarded with tickets to a Chivas USA home game and a chance to join the pre-game “Parade of Champions”.

Chivas USA regularly visits local schools to introduce the “Read and Score” program, and the bus tour marked the official kick-off of this year’s program. The tour was held in conjunction with “Read Across America Week”, a nationwide initiative.

Nadia Gonzalez, Senior Manager of Community Affairs at Chivas USA, was one of the people involved in setting up the bus tour. She said she was inspired to create the school bus tour by similar projects she helped organize working in the office of Mayor Villaraigosa.

Starting early on the morning of March 4th, the bus tour visited three local schools: Dominguez Elementary School in Carson, Torrance Elementary, and 99th Street Elementary in Watts. (See photos from the bus tour here!)

The kids from all three schools were incredibly excited to see the representatives from Chivas USA. It was obvious that the players had a chance to really make a difference because the kids were enthusiastic and listened with rapt attention.

Dan Kennedy, the eldest of the four players, acted as emcee for much of the event, and was comfortable and funny on the microphone. Midfielder Ben Zemanski revealed his favorite book is The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. Blair Gavin said he has seven favorite books: the entire Harry Potter series. Rookie Zarek Valentin was very popular with the kids, and showed off a hidden talent- the ability to make incredibly life-like bird noises.

The kids had fun watching and cheering as their principals took penalty shots against the ChivaFighter, and listened intently while the players spoke about the importance of reading. At each school, the students broke up into small reading groups, with one player or ChivaGirl assigned to read to each group. All the books were by Dr. Suess, as it was the birthday of the late American author.

Overall, the event was a huge success, especially judging by the reaction of the kids. It was pretty amazing to see scores of elementary school children chanting “Reading! Reading! Reading!” and making earnest pledges to increase their reading levels. The “Read and Score” program will continue throughout the season, making an impact in the lives of children throughout the Los Angeles Area. To find out how to get Chivas USA to come to your school, call Anette Padilla at (310) 630-4574 or Paris Deras at 310-630-4568.