Fort Wayne, Ind. - Actor and Verizon spokesperson James Earl Jones sat by home plate at the Fort Wayne Memorial Stadium today and read ''Casey at the Bat'' to the winners of the Fort Wayne Wizards Reading Club ''Reading Champions'' contest. The Verizon SuperPages-sponsored event celebrated a $50,000 Verizon grant to the Reading Club, which uses baseball to create enthusiasm for reading among students. This is Verizon's second consecutive grant to the Reading Club. In addition to the book reading, Mr. Jones read the National Anthem before the start of today's game.
Honorable Graham Richard, Mayor, Fort Wayne, honored Verizon SuperPages and officially declared July 18 ''Verizon SuperPages Reading Day.'' The proclamation recognized Verizon SuperPages for its support of literacy in Fort Wayne, its partnership with the Fort Wayne Wizards Reading Club and for honoring the Reading Champions with a special visit from actor James Earl Jones.
Created jointly by the Wizards and Verizon Information Services (VIS), publisher of the SuperPages, the contest is designed to recognize superlative readers and to encourage others to read by honoring students and educators from the Fort Wayne area who either overcame a reading challenge, read with uncommon enthusiasm or inspired others to read. The Reading Club and VIS selected 25 students and five educators from the many entrants based upon essays they submitted about their commitment to reading. Winners were treated to a VIP picnic, the private reading with Jones and a free ticket to today's game.
''Reading is fun and one of the greatest assets anyone can have. A child as a reader has a window into the world and a passport to a lifetime of enjoyment, and for that opportunity, I thank both the Wizards and Verizon SuperPages,'' said Fort Wayne Mayor, the Honorable Graham Richard. ''The Fort Wayne community benefits from the leadership of the Wizards and Verizon SuperPages for sponsoring the Reading Champions contest, which encourages our youth to develop a love for reading.''
About the Fort Wayne Wizards Reading Club
The Fort Wayne Wizards Reading Club, established in 2000, combines enthusiasm for reading with the excitement of baseball. Currently, more than 80,000 children participate in the program, which is introduced by a teacher or librarian who asks students to keep track of either the minutes or pages they read and to chart them ''around the bases'' as they move toward a specific reading goal - or a ''home run.'' As students round the bases, they receive prizes:
- 1st Base: Membership card to the Reading Club
- 2nd Base: Wizards bookmark
- 3rd Base: Wizards sticker
- Home Run: Free ticket, free hot dog, free soft drink and souvenir
''Verizon, the Fort Wayne Wizards and James Earl Jones all share an ongoing commitment to literacy,'' said Wizards General Manager Mike Nutter. ''Verizon SuperPages helps make it possible for us to show children that reading can be fun, just like baseball.''
''Verizon is committed to building strong literacy partnerships. The Fort Wayne Wizards Reading Program supports this commitment by reaching thousands of Fort Wayne students and emphasizing the importance of reading beyond the classroom,'' said Kathy Harless, president, Verizon Information Services. ''This is only the second year of our partnership with the Wizards, but already it is a huge success. We share their enthusiasm and passion for reading and their willingness to give back to our communities.''
About the Fort Wayne Wizards
The Fort Wayne Wizards are the Class ''A'' affiliate of the San Diego Padres in the Midwest League of Minor League Baseball. The Wizards are managed by General Sports and Entertainment, a Rochester, Michigan-based company specializing in sports marketing and management, sports sponsorship, executive placement, corporate representation and event hospitality.
About Verizon Information Services and SuperPages.com
Verizon Information Services is a world's leading print and online directory publisher and a content provider for communications products and services. The largest directory publisher in the world, Verizon has annual revenues of more than $4.1 billion and publishes nearly 1,600 Verizon directory titles with a total circulation of approximately 144 million copies worldwide. Verizon Information Services also produces and markets SuperPages.com, the Internet's preeminent online directory and shopping resource. SuperPages.com receives as many as 9 million visits and completes as many as 20 million searches per month.
Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), one of the world's leading providers of communications services.
Through its signature Verizon Reads program and the Verizon Literacy Network, Verizon is committed to leading the fight to increase U.S. literacy levels by creating community and corporate awareness, raising funds, encouraging collaboration among literacy providers and engaging employees in supporting literacy programs. Verizon Information Services sponsors community outreach programs across the nation designed to increase the literacy rate of children and to help people of all ages become computer literate.
For more information on Verizon Information Services, visit www.verizonyellowpages.com. For more information on Verizon's literacy programs, visit www.SuperPages.com and click on the Verizon Reads icon.
Tracy Marek, Fort Wayne Wizards, 219-407-2804