James joins children at ballpark for education event
|Erique Chambers, 8, who attends Voris Community Learning Center, was one of the Akron Public Schools students who received a new bicycle Aug. 19 at Canal Park.|
|The Akron West Griffins cheerleaders prepared for their part in the LeBron James Wheels for Education event at Canal Park Aug. 19.|
|Photos: Craig Marks|
|Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, Schumacher Community Learning Center Principal Brandi Davis, LeBron James and James’ mother, Gloria James, pose with some of the students who were part of the Wheels for Education program.|
Canal Park has not always been so welcoming to the superstar. Exactly two years and a month earlier, the Aeros held a “Ship Out LeBron James” promotion, where fans upset over James’ decision to play in Miami exchanged their old James apparel for free ballgame tickets.
On Aug. 19, James was met by cheers — and a few hard-to-miss boos — when he walked onto the field, joined by his mother, Gloria James, Plusquellic and several members of Akron City Council. Plusquellic praised James, though his words did not carry into the stands due to a faulty wireless microphone.
During the ceremony, a new “Home of LeBron James” sign was unveiled. The sign lists James’ basketball achievements, including his 2012 NBA championship and recent Olympic gold medal. It will be placed at nine different entry points into the city.
“We’re running out of things to give LeBron,” said Plusquellic, who noted that Akron has already given James a proclamation and a key to the city.
“It’s been one of the best years of my life, both on and off the floor,” said James, speaking to the press after the ceremony.
James said the day was not about his accomplishments on the court but about the children in the Wheels for Education program.
“Our future is right here,” said James, as he stood with a group of students. “They’re going to make sure Akron will be a better place, with their dreams and aspirations.”
There are currently 536 Akron Public Schools students in the program, which included 220 soon-to-be third-graders who left the ballpark with new bicycles and helmets. The third-graders can ride along with the fourth-graders in the program, who received their bicycles last year.
Both the third- and fourth-graders — the Class of 2022 and Class of 2021, respectively — were given uniform shirts and “I Promise” wristbands. In return, the students took a pledge, promising to stay in school, live a healthy life and be respectful to others.
“The LeBron Foundation is definitely holding up their end of the deal,” said Brandi Davis, principal of Schumacher Community Learning Center.
Also on the list of promises is “to have fun.” Despite intermittent rain during the ballgame, the students seemed to be keeping that promise.
Davis said James’ presence at the event meant a lot to the children.
“They see him, and see that he’s all about Akron,” she said.
More Sports News
Calendar of Events
- Spaghetti Dinner - 5/18/2013
- Amadeus Sinfonietta - 5/18/2013
- Book fair - 5/18/2013
- Sounds of Spring - 5/18/2013
- Highland Middle School Art Show - 5/18/2013