ST. LOUIS – Students at Jefferson Elementary School in Normandy got a special visit. On Monday, Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee came to read to them.

She also signed and donated 200 books to students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. The East St. Louis native says reading encourages kids to dream big, and shares the tools the Olympian used to help her win six gold medals.

“I never imagined I would be having an impact on kids like this, but I knew that it was very important because it’s a part of the book that’s connecting kids to their dreams and just allowing you to dream because I was a dreamer,” Joyner-Kersee shared. “I wanted to go to the Olympics and I didn’t know if that was going to happen – let alone win medals, but to see it open their eyes and the connection just really lifted my spirit, and seeing we are on the right path.”

The students also presented her with a special thank-you gift. The book donation is part of the ongoing work of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation.