Bailey Middle School eighth-grader Christian Walker was among 18 members of the Bailey Gs to Gents club who attended the Charlotte Checkers' "Salute to Heroes" hockey game March 27 at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.
The game, held in honor of all fire, police and military heroes, was the first Christian has attended.
"This was great, a lot of fun," he said at the end of the evening. "I sure hope I get to do this again."
School resource officer Dan Waltman of the Cornelius Police Department teamed with community groups and businesses to orchestrate the trip for Gs to Gents program.
Waltman and three other Cornelius officers - Sgt. George Brinzey, Robin Howell, and Lt. David Baucom - donated their time as chaperones. Alan Adler of the Charlotte Uptown Rotary purchased and donated the Checkers hockey game tickets for the group, a Huntersville Donatos donated pizza, and Charlotte Party Charters owner Vick Rabb and driver "Stoplight" donated their time and the use of a double-decker bus.
Dennis Zarelli, district supervisor for Donatos, provided the pizza for the boys to snack on as they headed to the game. Zarelli said Donatos "is inspired by giving and supporting the community, while trying to create greater opportunities for others."
The majority of students agreed their favorite part of the game was the animosity between the teams; most said it was a night to remember.
Waltman said he would like to extend thanks to all who donated to make this evening possible. "It is nice to have so many different individuals from our community come together, offering new opportunities and helping to mold our future heroes," Waltman said.