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ORLANDO, Fla. -- As the slogan goes, "Reading is fundamental." But as nearly 200 WWE fans, worldwide employees and special guests found out on Friday night, it's quite rewarding as well.
In front of a packed house at the Tommy Bahama Café, WWE CEO Linda McMahon was honored with a special presentation to commemorate WWE's efforts in promoting reading and literacy. Beth Yoke, the Executive Director of the Young Adult Library Services Association, was on hand to present the CEO with a plaque on behalf of YALSA and its parent division, the American Library Association.
"WWE has promoted the WrestleMania Reading Challenge for three years running now, and we are honored to present this award in recognition of their ongoing support," Yoke explained to the assembled guests.
Upon receiving the plaque, McMahon -- who has been honored by associations ranging from Make-A-Wish to Broadcasting & Cable magazine in recent years -- noted that this award was one of the most special to her.
"I started out as a teacher … I know how important reading is," the CEO quipped before slyly adding, "I thank you all for coming out tonight, and I hope we can do this again next year!" to a round of laughter and applause.
The festivities were rewarding not only to WWE, but to the fans and guests in attendance as well. The ceremony was hosted by WWE Hall of Famers "Mean" Gene Okerlund and Jimmy Hart, with several WWE Superstars in attendance. Prior to the event, fans and guests got to mingle and take photographs with Divas Kelly Kelly and Lilian Garcia, and SmackDown's resident "Reject," Shannon Moore. One lucky winner at each table also got to take home the commemorative centerpiece -- a replica WWE Championship.
On Saturday morning, it will be time for the children to be rewarded, as the finals of the 2008 WrestleMania Reading Challenge take place. CM Punk, Matt Striker, The Miz and others will be on hand at the Orlando Public Library as youngsters from around the nation look to succeed 2007 winner Adriana Slaughter as the Undisputed WrestleMania Reading Champion.
Stay tuned to WWE.com for full coverage of the Reading Challenge Finals and many other events this weekend leading up to The Granddaddy of Them All, WrestleMania XXIV, on Sunday night.