Tennis legends visit Richmond school

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Students at Chimborazo Elementaryin Richmond's Church Hill got a special visit today from husband and wife tennis stars, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.  They're supporting Genworth Financial Foundation's volunteer work with Richmond school children.

The timing couldn't have been more appropriate. It's the last day of school for these elementary students, who were able to end the year on a high note from some very inspirational role models.

Student Johnequea Whitaker says, "I think books give all students and children knowledge to learn about different things they don't know about."

And it was fifth grader Johnequea Whitaker's love of reading and books that caught the attention of Genworth Foundation.  She was one of four students in the area who won Genworth's Community Service essay contest back in October. Her reward is a sweet one, during Genworth's month of service.

Heidi Crapol, the VP of Community Relations for Genworth Financial says, "We are repainting the gym with some fun and engaging murals, we'll be making book marks, we will be creating a reading corner, as well as cataloging all the books we purchased for the library."

And while a group of some 40 volunteers were hard at work building Johnequea's dream, a reading nook -- and improving the media center, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf spent the morning touring Chimborazo Elementary and sitting down with the students.

They had an opportunity to ask questions of the star duo, who encouraged the children to dream big.

Andre Agassi says, "My hope is that they understand that to achieve anything in life, professional or personal, on any level, there are no shortcuts, it is a lot of work. We started young and were blessed, lucky to succeed, but in any walk of life to not give into those shortcuts but focus and take a step forward everyday."

Steffi Graf says, "To be able to actually see and try to raise awareness and raise money and see where it ends up and looking at the volunteers doing incredible work throughout the community. That's just special to be a part of that."

Two other Richmond school students won the essay as well.  One from Albert Hill and the other from Elizabeth Redd Elementary school. Their volunteer projects will be the cleanup of Battery Park in north Richmond and a playground.

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