GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Students often call Gordy VanHaitsma, an Oakdale Christian Elementary
custodian, when their bicycles break down. "Mr. Gordy" fixes the bikes and asks the owners what they''ve been reading lately — that''s how they got their bikes from him in the first place, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
For the past few years, VanHaitsma has refurbished bicycles and given them to local students who read 15 books. Now, he is receiving national recognition for his efforts, the article noted.
According to the article, VanHaitsma is a finalist for the "People All-Stars Among Us
" campaign, which recognizes efforts to improve communities and is sponsored by People magazine
and Major League Baseball
After an Oakdale teacher nominated VanHaitsma in early May, he figured he would go along with it: He found he was a finalist and got a call from someone with the Detroit Tigers
, who asked if he could throw the first pitch in a June 15 game, the article stated.
VanHaitsma''s program, which relies on help from teachers and parents to keep track of the reading, is small. He said he likes to be able to keep in touch with — and check up on — the students he helps, the article added.
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