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Nuggets game a slam dunk for families

Organizers behind the inaugural Catholic Families Night with the Denver Nuggets Dec. 14 want to give participating youths from area schools a memorable experience.

“We hope it’s one of those experiences they may never forget—that they had a chance to get on the court where the Denver Nuggets play,” said Jeff Stemper, one of the organizers.

Stemper, a parishioner at Most Precious Blood Parish, is helping to create a series of pre-game events for Catholic school students during the special group night at the Pepsi Center.

Youths will be given the chance to participate in a free pre-game basketball clinic at noon on game day. Students were also selected to participate in the national anthem, a flag presentation and player high-five tunnel before the Denver Nuggets face off against last year’s NBA champions, the San Antonio Spurs.

“At one point the kids will get T-shirts and they’ll be able to high-five players as they’re coming out on the court,” Stemper said.

Bill Hanzlik, a retired Nuggets basketball player and coach and parishioner at St. Thomas More Church in Centennial, is organizing the group night during which he’ll interview special guest Archbishop Samuel Aquila. The interview will appear on the Altitude Sports channel.

Discounted tickets are available for Catholic families to purchase before the game.

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“The Nuggets have made it such a great opportunity for these families to attend at an affordable ticket price,” Stemper said.

A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit the St. Sebastian Project Denver, an organization that supplies inner-city Catholic schools with grants to help stem the costs of its athletic programs.

Stemper said he started the project about five years ago to support Catholic school youths, who desire to play but may lack the necessary uniforms, equipment or funds.

“The St. Sebastian Project’s goal is to let these kids participate and play a sport while also feeling like a part of their team and their school, and taking pride in it,” Stemper said.

This year the project is aiding 14 Catholic school’s athletic programs, he said.


Catholic Families Night with the Denver Nuggets

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 14 (pre-game activities start at noon)
Where: Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, Denver
Special guest: Archbishop Samuel Aquila
Students: encouraged to wear their school colors to game
Pre-game events: free basketball clinic for students in fifth-eighth grades; registration open until Dec. 11 at www.csalden.org
Tickets: $15 upper level, $45 for lower level
Purchase: www.nuggetstix.com/catholicfamilies
Details: Call 303-405-7635 or email lmarchbanks@pepsicenter.com



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