Excel by 5

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Toledo Champions Literacy on MS Gulf Coast

by Amy M. Wilson, Tulane University and Susan Lamey

One professional golfer and 15 4-year olds equals a morning of fun and learning.

Champions Tour professional Esteban Toledo took time to read “Count on Golf” to a group of preschoolers at ABC Child Development Center while in Biloxi, Mississippi, last week to play in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic presented by C Spire.

The event was an effort to support the Excel by 5, an innovative early childhood community certification process focusing on a community's young children. The program emphasizes the important role parents and early childhood educators play in the lives of children during their most formative years -- birth to five.  Biloxi is currently a certified EB5 community among many others on the coast.

During the event, children shared Esteban’s excitement about learning as he read the counting book about golf. Eager hands were raised in the air, as the class counted golf clubs, golf tees, and other golf items. They even learned a few new lessons about the game of golf.

Toledo’s appearance was part of a partnership between Chevron and the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

“It was fun,” Toledo said, “I enjoy giving back to the communities that I visit during the tournament.”

Reaching out to the Gulf Coast community reflects an extension of Toledo’s passion of nurturing children. “I love kids and for me to be here this morning is fantastic,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to tell them a little about golf and about life.”

Raised in poverty in Mexicali, Mexico, Toledo turned his humble beginnings into success on the PGA TOUR, and he continues to give back. In addition to taking an opportunity to instill a love of reading to kids on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he also leads The Esteban Toledo Family Foundation, which focuses on helping others, especially children.  

Alan Sudduth, Chevron Policy Government and Public Affairs Manager, said, “Chevron has been a long-time supporter of early childhood education, and our partnership with the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and the Champions Tour, along with Excel By 5, emphasizes the importance of reading and preparing children to be healthy, happy and ready to learn.”

This year, the tournament continued to expand its educational activities by accepting a new children’s book in lieu of admission tickets for adults on Day Two of the tournament.

Click here to see photos of Pro Golfer Esteban Toledo reading to preschoolers