Soldiers, students part of record-setting reading event at Fort Carson
October 9, 2008
By Devin Fisher
<b>FORT CARSON, Colo. </b>- Two Fort Carson, Colo., Soldiers serving in Iraq and more than 100 students from the Mountain Post's Abrams Elementary School were part of a nationwide effort shattering the world record for the largest shared-reading experience in history.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Meyer and Cpl. Justin Wells, both with 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, read the selected book, "Corduroy," from their deployed location in Iraq to the second-graders gathered at the Rocky Mountain USO at Fort Carson via video teleconference.
The Fort Carson participants were among more than 425,000 children and adults to read the same book on the same day, breaking last year's record of 258,000, according to officials with event coordinator Jumpstart. The organization will submit its final numbers for this year's campaign to The Guinness Book of World Records for certification.
Jackie Beck, Fort Carson USO, coordinated the local event, arranging for deployed Soldiers to read and students to listen.
"The USO is not just about taking care of Soldiers," Beck said. "We have to also take care of their Families."
The deployed Soldiers opened the video teleconference with heartfelt hellos to their children in attendance, Benjamin Meyer, 6; and Kylie Wells, 5, and Paris Wells, 3.
Brittany Wells was anxious for her daughters to see their father for the first time since he was home on rest-and-recreation leave in August. "They know he can't see or hear them, but they are still very excited," she said prior to the event.
The Fort Carson students were treated to five stories in all. Capt. Kevin Brummett, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne); clowns Skeeter and Nickels from the Al Kaly Shrine of Colorado Springs; and Phil Martinez, Rocky Mountain USO at Fort Carson program manager, each read a story during the celebration.
"It was wonderful," said Brummett, who had two of his three kids in attendance. An avid supporter of reading, he said, "I let my kids think they are getting way with something by letting them stay up late to read."
The event kicked off with balloon animals courtesy of the clowns from Al Kaly Shrine and concluded with live animals from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The students enjoyed hands-on learning with a California king snake, porcupine, African giant millipede, desert tortoise and a Harris' hawk.
Founded in 1993 at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Jumpstart organized the record-setting bid as part of its ongoing effort of working toward the day "every child in America enters school prepared to succeed," according to the organization's Web site.
<i>From the Oct. 9, 2008 issue of the Mountaineer </i>