On October 12, 2014 fourteen 4th and 5th grade students from Garibaldi Grade School accompanied teacher Ann Harper and parent Scott Ernst (a former GGS student) to a Trailblazer basketball pre-season game, compliments of the Mudd Nick Foundation. The students gathered at the school and rode a small school bus to the Moda Center in downtown Portland.
Entering the Rose Center property was so exciting for the children. All but one had only seen it on television and they loved every bit of it. Before they entered the Moda Center, several of the students ran through the water fountains trying to outsmart the jets of water. There were many smiles and laughs as they made their way to the entry doors with their tickets held tight in their fists.
Upon entering the facility, the students were awestruck by its size and the number of people surrounding them. Because the tickets they had were extra special, the group had to ride up in an elevator reserved only for a lucky few. They were treated to seats in one of the suites on the 200 level of the arena. A private waiter took their order from the menu and the students filled up on hot dogs with all the trimmings, along with bottomless bowls of popcorn, snack mix, and peanuts.
The arena was filled with sights and sounds unlike any they would see on the Oregon Coast. There was a flying car dropping leaflets onto the crowd, music playing when the Blazers took a time out, activities taking place on the court, announcers sharing the play-by-play action, banners of lights surrounding the room, and giant screens to bring the action close. The students could barely sit still during the game because of all the excitement. They cheered for the Blazers throughout the game, especially at the end when they beat their opponent.
After leaving the arena, all the students ran through the fountain jets, most getting more than a little wet. They never complained once about being wet and cold on the bus ride home, though. The excitement of the night kept them warm and happy. It was a memorable experience for all! The students returned to the school at nearly midnight on that Sunday night with smiles that never faded. They so appreciated this wonderful gift made possible by the Mudd Nick Foundation that will be remembered for a very long time.