LAKE IN THE HILLS – Sometime between the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey win against Slovenia and preparing for a quarterfinal game versus the Czech Republic, Patrick Kane took a moment to send a special message to a Lake in the Hills second-grade class.
Christy Gibbs, a second-grade teacher at Chesak Elementary School, sent a message to Kane from her class cheering on the Blackhawks’ forward as he competes in Sochi. The messages, which are organized by McDonald’s and sent to athletes, are printed on a bracelet for the Olympian to wear.
On Wednesday, Kane sent a video message to the second-graders thanking them for the encouragement.
“I just wanted to say thank you to Ms. Gibbs’ class,” Kane said in the video. “Thanks for the message. I appreciate you guys cheering me on, and hopefully we can bring back the gold medal.”
Each student also received a Patrick Kane autographed mini hockey stick, a Sochi Olympic jacket and an Olympic mascot toy.
Of the many messages Kane has received, the Chesak class is the only message he has responded to, something that has meant a lot to the second-graders, Gibbs said.
“They are just so excited,” Gibbs said. “I have a lot of hockey fans in my class this year. I told them that we sent the message to Patrick Kane and he might be wearing one of our messages on his wrist. And that, to them, was enough to get them excited. So this is just a dream come true for them.”
Gibbs said the class has been researching the different Olympic games in class, keeping a tally of the medals and writing about the events. The Olympics are a valuable tool in teaching the students a variety of topics, Gibbs said.
“This is the first time in a 7- or 8-year-old that they really understand the Olympic games and what’s going on,” she said. “This is the first Olympic games they can really go through. … I just really like what the Olympics stands for. Not just the sports, but the teamwork, the cooperation, and all the different things we can also teach out in the classroom.”
Others interested in sending an Olympian a message can do so by using the #CheersToSochi hashtag on Twitter or by going to the McDonald’s Cheers to Sochi website at www.cheerstosochi.com.