Tony and Lauren Dungy sign copies of their new children’s book "You Can Be a Friend" Jan. 19 at Pittsburgh MLK Elementary School. (Photo/Emily Leone)
Tony Dungy put the sports commentating on the bench Wednesday to tell kids that friendship and reading are MVPs in the game of life.
The iconic former Indianapolis Colts coach and Steelers defensive back made an appearance with his wife, Lauren, at Pittsburgh King Elementary School to promote education and to read their new book “You Can Be a Friend” to anxious kids.
“Are you all ready to read?” Tony asked as the kids cheered and roared back in resounding agreement.
In “You Can Be a Friend,” the children learn to welcome and accept a new friend, Hannah, who doesn’t look like them because she is in a wheelchair. As one astute little girl in the audience pointed out, the characters in the book are named after Tony, Lauren and their four children.
Lauren said the plotline was inspired by her son’s struggles with using a wheelchair and wanting to feel accepted by his peers.
“We wanted to write this book to encourage children to read … and to help parents walk kids through difficulties,” said Lauren, who is originally from Pittsburgh.
After the reading, the Dungys took questions from the audience and then gave autographed books to a few lucky kids.
The Dungys’ stop at MLK was part of the Dungy Family Foundation’s work to promote reading by bringing books to schools and libraries in four cities. Tony is the best-selling author of “Quiet Strength” as well as another children’s book, “You Can Do It.”
Schools can schedule readings and book distributions by visiting the foundation’s website.