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Sterling Heights

September 20, 2013

WWE wrestlers visit Dresden to promote reading

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
WWE wrestlers Hornswoggle, left, and Brodus Clay read the children’s book “Otis” to first-graders at Dresden Elementary School in Sterling Heights.

STERLING HEIGHTS — There were no body slams, takedowns or pins, but two WWE superstars took part in a tag-team effort to get local elementary students to read Sept. 16.

Wrestlers Brodus Clay and Hornswoggle visited Dresden Elementary School in Sterling Heights to read to students as part of an event  sponsored by the Pearson Foundation, Walmart’s Local Giving Program and the WWE.

The two wrestlers may differ in height — Clay (real name George Murdoch) stands at 6 feet 7 inches, and Hornswoggle (real name Dylan Postl) stands at 4 feet 5 inches — but the pair agreed on the importance of literacy.

Dresden Principal Jami Wood said the children were excited to see the wrestling duo, even though no wrestling techniques or moves were demonstrated. Instead, the superstars talked to the students about the importance of reading and assisted in handing out crayons and materials, she said.

Wood said it’s a bonus anytime someone “bigger than life” can establish a connection to a young audience over a serious topic.

“Kids are very used to hearing how important reading is from their teachers,” she said. “When an outside source comes and tries to build that relationship, it just kind of puts another layer of the importance of reading in their lives.”

The two wrestlers visited Dresden as part of a We Give Books national literacy tour, which makes books and e-books available to kids. Because the tour’s purpose is to encourage students to read, part of the visit included the delivery of children’s books to the school.

Thanks to the initiative, the school received 540 books, one for every child and teacher in the building, Wood said. The principal added that Dresden wants to participate in an Oct. 3 Jumpstart Read for the Record event.

During that event, the school body will read the provided books together. Wood said the books tell the story of Otis, a farm tractor that befriends a calf.

“It’s a book all about friendship,” she said. “I think that’s another important thing for kids to realize. We don’t only read to become a better reader. … It also teaches us lessons every single day.”

WWE spokesman Matthew Altman said his company’s stars participate in outreach and charity events on a monthly or even weekly basis. Besides the Pearson Foundation, the wrestling entertainment organization works with groups like the Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish and the United Service Organizations, he said.

“At WWE, we have a strong philosophy to give back to the communities and children whom we touch because it’s the right thing to do,” Altman said in an email.

“Our job is to put smiles on people’s faces, and (we) are committed to leveraging the power of our brand and platforms to help address important social issues worldwide.”

Learn more about Utica Community Schools at www.uticak12.org or at (586) 797-1000. Learn more about WWE at www.wwe.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.