BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Strong leadership skills, an excellent representative of Toledo, and a dedicated reader who recognizes the importance of literacy, were the qualities that caused Erik Kynard, Toledoan, and two-time Silver Medal Olympian, to be the first recipient of the Buddy of the Year Award, presented by Books 4 Buddies. The award was presented to Mr. Kynard on Wednesday, November 16 at the McMaster Center in the Main Branch Library in downtown Toledo.
Co-founded in 2012 by then, 13 year old Toure’ McCord, and his grandmother, Laneta Goings, who is the President, Books 4 Buddies have given away thousands of books to area children with hopes of encouraging them to love reading. The Buddy of the Year Award recognizes someone who exemplifies the organization’s mission.
“We want kids in the community to be able to look up to the Buddy of the Year, and become inspired to read,” Mr. McCord told The Toledo Journal.
Currently, the co-founder is an 18 year old, Clark Atlanta University student majoring in Mass Media Communications, who still finds time to help further the cause of the organization that he co-founded.
“We’re so honored and pleased to have Erik Kynard here this evening,” Mrs. Goings said. “Our campaign is aimed at encouraging children, especially boys, since they’re the non-readers, to read.”
In addition to presenting Mr. Kynard with the award, which was a wooden book with his accomplishments, designed by students from his former high school, Rogers, there were refreshments, a raffle, and a silent auction that featured Olympic memorabilia of the honoree.
The two-time Silver Medal Olympian is training for the upcoming World Championships, which he has already qualified for, and coaches, at his now, alma mater, Kansas State University, took time out to support Books 4 Buddies and encourage children to read.
“I read a lot,” he said. “I’m not talking about social media posts or quotes, but books. You should never put yourself in a position where you limit yourself, especially when it pertains to knowledge, and elevating your thinking,” Mr. Kynard said.
“A lot of times, you have to get knowledge, outside of what’s being formally taught to you, to acquire more knowledge. In order to do that, you have to be willing and able to read and comprehend what you’re reading,” he said.
After his brief talk, he took questions from the audience, who, most of which were the children present.