Virgil Snow admits he's years removed from elementary school, but the once unrecognizable words stretched across his grammar-book pages still haunt him.
"It was hard growing up not knowing how to read," he said. "You feel like you have no future . . . but library volunteers were there to help."Now an avid reader and volunteer himself, Snow seemed an apt co-spokesman at Saturday's unveiling of "I Can Read" - a community tutoring program designed to help kids battle illiteracy.
Formerly known as A Thousand Points of Light on Literacy, "I Can Read" asks citizens to donate two hours per week for a year at a local school. Working one-on-one, participants help students master basic reading and writing skills.
On Saturday, Super Bowl MVP and honorary "I Can Read" Chairman Steve Young stressed the importance of Snow and other volunteer tutors, noting "all adults who can't read started as children who couldn't read."
Few things "put a lump in a child's throat" like having to sit in class without reading skills, he said.
Utah's First Lady, Jackie Leavitt, echoed Young's words, saying the program offers "a web of support" to ensure Utah's kids won't slip through the cracks.
A former teacher, Leavitt also emphasized the difference an involved parent makes. "Students who read and are read to at home do better in school," she said.
Goodness, not government, will crack the curse of illiteracy, said Leavitt, adding "this kind of program evokes the strength of the people of Utah."
Those interested in tutoring or making a financial contribution to the program should call 328-5637.