Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal loves to sleep. He likes to watch TV. Sometimes he hits his head against the ceiling. He is a children’s author, a four-time NBA Player of the Year, a philanthropist, star of general insurance commercials and an Olympic gold medalist. And on September 10, he sat in a small black folding chair in the Charles Koch Arena for Storytime Village’s Hoops 4 Literacy event.
Hoops 4 Literacy was the finale of Storytime Village’s Literacy Festival, a three-day event dedicated to promoting healthy literature habits in Wichita’s childhood. The event, a basketball game featuring players of all professions, was attended by O’Neal himself as well as many community leaders.
On the field, city councilors, Olympians and local basketball players battled each other for most of the game. In the end, Team Literacy moved on and the match ended with a score of 53-46. Both teams scored for promoting literacy.
“Events like this… (show) literacy, but (show) that literacy can be a lot of fun,” said Kynnedy Moore, a member of Storytime Village’s arts integration cohort. “You don’t have to just sit and read, but you can do so many things through literacy.”
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple attended the event and shook hands with Wichitans and worldwide legends.
“What we have here is not only a collection of some of our community’s leaders coming together for a good cause, but also an opportunity for our young people to see some of these legends,” Whipple said. “It’s just an honor to be invited to something like this [and] to see the magic happen.”
A basketball game was held between Team Literacy and Team Legacy, featuring cheerleaders from high school in Wichita East, Wichita Southeast, and Wichita Heights, as well as cheerleaders and dancers from Shocker. People of all ages and all walks of life were in attendance and united to watch the match taking place.
“To organize this in a place like Wichita State is also great for the school,” Moore said. “It shows that they also support great things like Storytime Village and what we’re trying to get across in the community.”
Wichita State was also an ideal location for O’Neal, as one of his high school teammates lives and teaches here in Wichita.