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Vikings Help Host Scholastic Book Fair for St. Paul School


ST. PAUL – It wouldn't be a book fair without Reeder in the building.

Linebacker Troy Reeder, whom the Vikings signed in free agency earlier this spring, was all smiles – despite a cheesy joke – last week at Battle Creek Elementary, where he helped young people choose new books for the summer.

The Vikings partnered with Thomson Reuters to host a Scholastic Book Fair for students kindergarten through fifth grade. Each student was able to browse an expansive selection and select three new books to take home for the summer.

"I think reading is super important for kids, and I remember being able to go to the Scholastic Book Fair at my school growing up, it was always a big day for us, and I'm glad I was able to come down here," Reeder said. "[Reading] can take you so far in life; you can learn so many things.

"I just think it's every child's right and privilege to be able to have access to whatever books that they need. So I'm here to support that," he added. "I'm proud to be a Viking and help them with their cause. It was a great day."

Reeder was joined by teammates Harrison Phillips, Theo Jackson, Luiji Vilain and Kenny Willekes, along with Vikings Legends Michael Floyd and Stu Voigt. Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking also made an appearance.

"This is so awesome. I used to play rec basketball, from fourth grade on, over here. We used to have tournaments in this gym over here," said Floyd, who grew up in the Battle Creek/Hazel Park neighborhood. "It's good to be back in my old stopping grounds and hanging out with the kids."

Battle Creek Elementary Principal Kristen Longway emphasized the value of a book fair in helping the school reach its reading and phonics goals.

"This really supports our initiative," Longway said. "But this isn't something that we would be able to pull into our budget, so having a sponsor do this for us means a great deal for our families and our students."

Thomson Reuters Senior Program Manager Betsy Lulfs was in attendance with other Thomson Reuters staff members to help children purchase their books.

"We have a very large manufacturing plant located [right in Eagan], and books are important to us," Lulfs said. "We believe every child should have access to books to be able to read any and every time of the year. And it's even more special when it's ones that they own. So we're very excited to be here with the Minnesota Vikings."

Players perused bookshelves with the youngsters, helping them select titles and topics ranging from science and geography to superheroes and fairytales.

Floyd and Reeder each recalled picking out a Captain Underpants book or two during their own childhood book fairs. Reeder also grew an affinity for the Harry Potter series and Aragon books.

"I loved to read, and this is such a cool event," he said.

"I'm new to this community, and every community. I've been a part of – both playing and in my hometown – I like to kind of dive in and get to know the people of the community, the people that support us, and support them in any way that I can," added Reeder, a Delaware native.

View photos of Vikings players helping to host a Scholastic Book Fair at Battle Creek Elementary.

Looking around at the room, Longway called it an experience her students won't soon forget.

"Our kids love the Vikings. They've been excited about this for days. They're role models to them," Longway said. "When the children see that Vikings players are also readers and very interested in books, they become invested in reading themselves."

Floyd, 33, joked about being the "old football player" now, and he remains grateful for the love he receives from young fans.

"I did play, and I feel cool to them," he laughed. "It's fun to see them get excited about an NFL player coming in here to talk to them, hang out with them.

"This is the next generation coming up, and you know, you never know what anyone is going through," Floyd continued. "So to be able to come here and see the light in these kids' eyes and hang out with them for a couple of hours – it actually fills my cup. I get excited to see them smile and enjoy the day."