By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4)– Seven years ago, Bill Hanzlik and his partners at the Gold Crown Foundation had an idea to help military members and their kids.
“We decided to go down to Fort Carson, 25,000 troops down there. We take 25 kids from each of the elementary schools, 100 from Carson Middle School and we bring them up for a fun day in Denver,” Hanzlik said.
The kids played dodge ball, soccer, and basketball, led by the Metro State University of Denver men’s basketball team.
“Most of these kids have only seen their parents half their lives because of deployments. We know if we can put a smile on a soldier’s face knowing their child had a fun day, that’s all we need to do,” Hanzlik said.
That day turned into a tradition that’s still happening now.
“I do know a little bit what it’s like to have your parent be gone. I moved from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and then California twice,” said Adam Orr, a player on the MSU team and the son of an Air Force Recruiter. “It was tough but it was always it was something you get used to in a way.”
That’s how many of the kids feel as well.
“Moving a lot isn’t that difficult, eventually you kind of just get used to it. It’s a lot easier when you’re younger because you’re able to make friends a lot more easily,” said Avery Ketchmark, a Carson Middle School student. “I’m moving in January and I just decided that I wanted to go to a Gold Crown event before I moved. I wanted to be with my friends.”
The 200 kids were also treated to a Denver Nuggets game at the Pepsi Center.
“It’s good to see them have fun and they can just be free and be kids,” Orr said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.