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Children’s Book a Highlight of Lamar Stevens’ Service-Focused Senior Year

by on February 07, 2020 11:05 AM

As part of Penn State men’s basketball’s “Everyone Is Awesome Day,” star forward Lamar Stevens teamed up with LifeLink PSU and Special Olympics PA to write a children’s book titled “Lamar’s Climb: A Journey To Happy Valley.”

The book, which tells the story of Stevens’ journey to becoming a Nittany Lion, was illustrated by individuals with Down syndrome. In honor of the senior surpassing 2,000 career points last week, the first 2,000 fans to arrive at the Bryce Jordan Center for Penn State’s contest against Minnesota at 4 p.m. on Saturday will receive a copy of the book. Stevens and the rest of the artists featured will also do a book signing after the game.

Stevens explained on Thursday that the idea for the book came when he spoke to athletics marketing director PJ Mullen about it before the season began. And now that it’s gone to print, Stevens couldn’t be happier to have been involved with such a fun project.

“It was honestly just an honor for someone to want my name on something like this,” Stevens said. “I took great pride in it. I think the book is really cool; I think the kids did a great job on it. So it’s definitely something I’m really proud of.”

The book features several illustrations of Stevens’ journey to Happy Valley, including a couple of stops in Lancaster and Hershey.

Photo by Ryan Parsons | Onward State

Photo by Ryan Parsons | Onward State

The illustrations in the book were done by Gabe Billy, Brooke Fisher, Patrick Northup-Moore, Haley Smith, Emily Thom, and Sammy Urgo.

Fisher is somewhat of a local celebrity and has sung the national anthem at several Penn State men’s basketball games; Northup-Moore is a manager for the team; and Urgo is the daughter of associate head coach Keith Urgo. Billy is the son of team physician Dr. Greg Billy; Smith is the daughter of Penn State football assistant coach Terry Smith; and Thom is the sister of team marketing intern Abby Thom.

A photo of the illustrators and an illustration of Stevens graduating from Penn State alongside the Nittany Lion are featured in the book’s final pages.

Photo by Ryan Parsons | Onward State

Photo by Ryan Parsons | Onward State

Stevens is a huge proponent of the team’s “Everyone Is Awesome Day” initiative, as working with people with special needs and these particular individuals has been something he’s been a part of since he arrived in State College.

“Each year since my freshman year we’ve always participated in the Special Olympics and the Buddy Walk (for the Centre Region Down Syndrome Society),” Stevens said. “I’ve been around these kids, and I’ve developed a great relationship with them. This book is just a small dosage of how awesome they are. When you spend so much time around them, you really get to see how awesome these kids are and how much light they share.”

The senior forward added that he had a great time writing the book and spending even more time with the illustrators. He explained that he was glad he could bring so much joy to their lives, especially in his final season at Penn State.

While he was quick to remind the media that he’s just a college student, Stevens is fully aware of the impact he has on others based on initiatives like this.

“I’m just a regular young man, but I have the stage where I’m able to voice out my opinion or give back a little bit more,” Stevens said. “In my four years here, I’ve been surrounded by great people, so this year was really more about me serving instead of just taking everything for what it is. That’s something I’ve taken pride in and focused on a lot more.”

Stevens and the rest of the Nittany Lions will be joined by friends from the Special Olympics during Saturday’s festivities. The first 1,000 students in attendance will also receive a Lamar Stevens t-shirt, while the first 500 kids aged 12 or younger will also receive one.

Will Pegler is a Penn State student and a writer for Onward State.
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