Cop helps buy gym membership for teen who kept sneaking in
SKOKIE, Il. - A teen who repeatedly snuck into a gym to use its basketball court thought he was in trouble when the management called police. Instead, the officer who responded to the call gave him a helping hand.
According to a report from WLS, the officer gave Vincent Gonzales $150 to put toward a membership to the gym.
"I thought it was really nice. I texted him and I said 'thank you,'" Gonzales said. "That meant a lot."
Gonzales' membership had lapsed. The court was a popular spot for the student athlete this past summer and he kept trying to come back.
"It was kind of like a magic show. He would just randomly appear, not walking past the front desk," XSport Fitness employee Justin Pritchett told WLS. "All of our entrances and exits are blocked. And sure enough, he would just show up on the basketball court. He just wanted to play ball."
XSport Fitness management had warned Gonzales, because a juvenile without a membership was a liability for them. During his most recent visit, staff called police. That's when Officer Mario Valenti showed up.
"After 23 years in this job, you size up people pretty quickly. And I could tell he was a gentle type of kid," Valenti said.
Valenti offered the club $150 of his own money so the teen could have a place to play. Then, XSport Fitness' corporate office waived hundreds of dollars in fees and offered the teen a two-year membership.
"For the officer to respond the way he did and turn a negative situation into an unbelievably positive situation, that's just fantastic," Pritchett said.
"You get satisfaction out of helping people, especially because our job is so negative," Valenti said.
Gonzales is hoping to try out for the team at his new school, Uplift Community High School, in Chicago. His mother said she is grateful for the officer's gesture so her son can focus on his school and his sport.
Click HERE to see the full report from WLS.