A teenager who had been warned multiple times to not sneak into a basketball court at a fitness facility finally had the police called on him. But things didn’t turn out as he expected.
Teen Vincent Gonzales had repeatedly trespassed into an XSport Fitness in Skokie, Illinois, to play basketball after his gym membership lapsed. His mother could no longer afford it, so Gonzales found a way to sneak by employees and through blocked entrances.
But XSport Fitness management had to warn Gonzales that because he was a juvenile without a membership, it was a liability for them for him to be there. They finally had to call police. Officer Mario Valenti responded, but instead of charging the teen with trespassing, he bought the kid a membership.
“After 23 years in this job, you size up people pretty quickly. And I could tell he was a gentle type of kid,” Valenti told ABC 13.
Valenti offered the club $150 of his own money so that the student athlete could come in and play. Annual memberships cost more, but when XSport Fitness’ corporate office heard about what Valenti did, they took it a step further and waived hundreds of dollars of fees and offered the teen a two-year membership (worth $718).
XSport Fitness employee Justin Pritchett said Officer Valenti turned a negative situation into “an unbelievably positive situation”. Valentini responded by saying, “You get satisfaction out of helping people, especially because our job is so negative.”
Valentini was happy to help and noted XSport Fitness’ contribution was an example of how “doing a good thing can be contagious. I see that all the time, he told the Chicago Tribune.
For his part, Gonzales texted Valentini to say ‘thank you’. He said the officer’s gesture meant a lot to him.
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