It's not every day you get to play hockey at recess with an Olympic gold medalist. Many students at Martin Elementary School in Santa Ana said meeting Hernandez was a dream come true.
"She's my hero, because she, I feel like she's going to make my dream come true of going to the Olympics," said fourth-grader Natalia Torres.
Today was amazing! @KPMG_US Family for Literacy not only gave out books to students but also donated gym equipment to Martin Elementary School! So proud to be a part of today’s event with @KPMG_US & @BGCCentralOC encouraging everyone to strengthen their minds and bodies! pic.twitter.com/DKkwpUBFtG— Laurie Hernandez (@LaurieHernandez) February 26, 2019
Hernandez teamed up with KPMG and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast to visit these lucky students, get some play time and encourage them to chase their dreams just like she continues to do.
"They're kids. Kids are made to move, to kind of be free and play and have fun, and we're just going to give them more opportunities to do that," Hernandez said.
The real focus of the visit though -- inspiring kids to read.
Hernandez and volunteers hand-delivered and donated more than 600 books to the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. One young lady even brought her own copy of Hernandez's book for her to sign.
Gold medalist @LaurieHernandez teams up with @KPMG and @BGCA_Clubs to donate books and gym equipment to students in #SantaAna. She encouraged these kids to chase their dreams and to be leaders in their community. #abc7eyewitness pic.twitter.com/YmocjqC8AW— Greg Lee (@abc7greg) February 25, 2019
"Readers make leaders, and when kids have access to books, they become more patient, they become ones to think outside the box," Hernandez said.
During an assembly, Hernandez shared her own path to success and eventual gold -- as well as challenging these kids to be leaders in their own community.
"She's just awesome in her own way. She encourages me," said fourth-grader Dulce Villasenor.
Hernandez and the sponsors also surprised the kids with a donation of gym equipment to keep them active and sharp.
"These kids see me in person, playing with them, and I'm reading with them and I'm outside being active with them, I hope I can be a role model for them to do that as well," Hernandez said.