St. John Fisher College has been the home of Buffalo Bills training camp for the last ten years. Tuesday, Fisher served yet another purpose for the Bills; they hosted "Literacy Day," a series of events for middle school and high school students from the city of Rochester.
There were various events throughout the day to promote reading and writing across many spectrums. The participating students were part of the Rochester Public Library's Safe to be Smart program, and the city of Rochester recreation program.
The activities were led by St. John Fisher faculty and coaches, as well as Bills personnel. They included: An exercise in sports journalism, a hands-on learning experience a SYMS mannequin in the Wegmans School of Nursing, a "chalk talk" on careers in professional sports with Buffalo Bills marketing executive Andy Major, and a lesson in proper nutrition and its benefit to athletic performance.
In addition to watching the Bills practice, the participants had the opportunity to meet with OL Brad Butler and S George Wilson. The players spoke about the importance of reading and comprehension, and made it clear that much of their success is due to the fact that they are literate. Tuesday was officially declared "Literacy Day."
"Reading, comprehension, and writing are essential tools to being successful in life," said Wilson. "I would like to thank all of the volunteers in the city of Rochester who are helping to make such an important investment in the lives of these kids. I hope you all take full advantage of this opportunity that you have. Growing up in my community in Kentucky, I didn't have a literacy program. You all are taking a part in something that I wasn't fortunate enough to take part in."
Added Butler, "Reading is something that's important to me. Most importantly, whatever you want to do in life, you have to know how to read. Some of you here today, I'm sure, want to be football players, or go to college and play football. One of the things that people forget when they get to high school is that you have to have a certain GPA and a certain SAT score to even qualify to play college sports. I encourage you guys, if that's your dream, to be diligent, and study. It doesn't matter if you're Michael Jordan or Trent Edwards, if you don't make the grades, you're not going to play at the next level."
Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy has spearheaded Rochester's literacy movement, and this event was designed to make kids aware of the importance of literacy. Mayor Duffy was joined by Dr. Donald Bain, president of SJFC, and Russ Brandon, Chief Operating officer and general manager of the Bills.
The relationship between the Buffalo Bills, SJFC, and the city of Rochester – which began 10 years ago as the Bills began to hold training camp at St. John Fisher – was solidified further with Tuesday's event.
Meg Bain, wife of President Dr. Bain's, and community volunteer of the program was very pleased with the events of the day.
"We had this idea of coming up and teaming with the Buffalo Bills," Mrs. Bain said. "When I approached them, they were very supportive about this. Then we partnered with the city, and we put this together and it is really to give these kids an opportunity to be on a college campus, extend their horizons, and raise the bar, and to enjoy the Bills."