While many of his teammates were relaxing between practices, Buffalo Bills rookie linebacker Nic Harris was busy donating his time reading to nearly 40 children and sharing the importance of literacy at St. John Fisher College Thursday afternoon.
The youth, from the city and suburbs of Rochester and Greater Monroe County, were invited as part of the St. John Fisher College Literacy Program.
Former Oklahoma University standout Harris, 22, told the young elementary school-aged students that his education growing up and at Oklahoma helped prepare him to be an NFL player for the Bills. Harris impressed upon the children how his accomplishments of graduating from college in 3 ½ years with a degree in physical therapy and his score of 35 on the NFL's Wonderlic intelligence test (21 is average) were the positive results of working hard in school and being able to read and write.
Harris was happy to share his love of reading with the kids. "When I was asked if I would like to speak with you kids, I said sure, I love to read," said Harris.
Harris read the A-to-Z book, T is for Touchdown, by author Brad Herzog and got the children's attention with his funny and engaging personality. As he read the story and showed the pictures to the kids, they had their eyes on Harris' every word as he ad-libbed some funny stories relating to the letters in the book.
The young students laughed especially hard when Harris said, "The Z is for Zebras, also known as referees."
He also received a warm response from those in attendance when he explained how proud his mom was of his educational accomplishments which helped lead him to the NFL.
Harris said, "Sunday is a big day for me because my mom will get to see me in my first NFL jersey."
After reading, Harris answered questions, happily signed autographs and posed for pictures for all the children in attendance.
President Donald Bain of St. John Fisher College and his wife, Meg, are strong supporters of the literacy program and welcomed the children and guests in attendance and thanked Harris for his time and tremendous support.
St. John Fisher College, the City of Rochester, and the Buffalo Bills will celebrate the second annual Literacy Day on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at the Bills Verizon Wireless Training Camp. More details regarding Literacy Day will be announced in the near future.