After many warnings XSport Fitness had to make the hard call. Manager Justin
Pritchett told a 15-year-old boy that he was no longer allowed in the gym because his membership had expired.
The teenager simply could not accept this answer. He still came to the gym and played basketball with his friends. At one point he even hid in the bathroom to avoid the security guard.
Pritchett said the boy had a membership, but his mother couldn't afford it anymore. "All he wanted to do was play basketball," he said.
According to the Chicago Tribune, gym employees caught the boy and called the police. That's when Skokie police officer Mario Valenti showed up on the scene.
Officer Valenti had a tough choice to make: either take the boy down to the station or let him play. The boy wasn't a bad kid; he just didn't have the money to do what he loved. Officer Valenti pulled $150 out of his wallet and asked how much of a membership it would cover.
Pritchett told the officer it would only cover three to four months. Officer Valenti handed over the $150 to let the boy keep playing.
Like the officer, Pritchett decided to go above the call of duty. He called the corporate office and explained the situation.
Pritchett told Officer Valenti corporate was so impressed with his generosity that they made their own offer: Valenti's $150 would go toward a two-year membership (a total value of $718), and XSport Fitness would cover the rest of the cost.
Pritchett and Officer Valenti later learned this teenager is an "NBA hopeful, a skilled player who had received national attention for his on-court accomplishments."
When Officer Valenti pulled the money out of his wallet, he had no idea who the teenager was. He had no idea that he might be helping a kid follow his dreams of becoming a NBA player. He simply wanted to help.
Officer Valenti stated, "Most of us took this job to help people, not to hurt them. The job can be negative. For the most part, the job is dealing with good people having a very bad day so you're not seeing the best side of people."
It can be hard to reach out to others, and sometimes we don't feel like they deserve our help. But helping them is important.
We all want to make our communities better, and this is possible when we help others. Valenti said, "Doing a good thing can be contagious," and we saw this as XSport offered to add to the officer's generosity. You don't have to spend money to make a difference, but every small good act helps. Start small, and make the world a better place.