Billie Jean King, and Dodger infielders Gavin Lux and Edwin Rios teamed up at a book distribution and reading event held at Oropeza Elementary to share the importance of reading.
September 26, 2019
With blue and white paper garlands and Dodger-themed welcome posters, around 200 anticipating 5th graders arranged themselves in a sea of Dodger blue at Jenny Oropeza Elementary on Friday Sept. 20.
Prior to the event, the students were each given a Dodger baseball cap and a LA Reads shirt from the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, who assisted in making the event happen.
Nicole Whiteman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation thanked the principals of Edison Elementary and Oropeza Elementary, Juan Gutierrez and Mona Cook, and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative for making the event possible.
Dodger owner, sports legend Billie Jean King and Dodger infielders, Gavin Lux and Edwin Rios received a roaring welcome with screams and cheers from the faculty and students.
Edwin Rios addressed the students, stressing the importance of good grades and working hard, before giving the same words of encouragement in Spanish.
“Keep reading, it’s so important to have good grades and keep working hard. Para los Latinos tambien, que sigan leyendo y sigan trabajando fuerte y con los grados sigan para delante,” he told the crowd.
“Wows” came out from students who were surprised to hear the native Puerto Rican major league baseball player speak Spanish.
On what was the 46th anniversary of Billie Jean King’s famous “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs in 1973, Whiteman introduced King as a “game-changer, a trailblazing athlete, and a social advocate.”
King spoke, stressing the importance of reading and bilingualism.
“When there’s job applications, if you speak Spanish and English or any other languages, you have a better chance of getting a job and getting paid more. That’s the way the world is going.”
During the reading portion of the program, King sat in a chair amid the students, and with the help of students, excerpts were read from King’s book “I am Billie Jean King.
The book champions equality, teamwork, problem-solving and learning how to learn.
Afterwards, students were able to walk up to meet King, Lux and Rios and receive their own copy of “I am Billie Jean King”. A few lucky ones were able to sneak in an autograph.
On behalf of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, all 5th graders in the Long Beach Unified School District will receive the “I am Billie Jean King” book this academic year.