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Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk Hosts Awards Dinners for ‘Grandfather Challenge’ Program

Numerous groups of school kids that have completed the “Grandfather Challenge” program for at-risk kids at Grandfather Mountain in Linville have celebrated their successes at awards dinners held in their honor at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk.  

Since the inception of this program in 2015, Bella’s has hosted these celebrations in their intimate Banquet Room, and has also fully supported and accommodated these school groups. As most of our local community knows, Bella’s is the ultimate “go to” place for superb Italian food, including pizzas, lasagna, and other delectable Italian food. Our hiking program kids always love having a fine meal and celebrating at Bella’s !!  Our deepest thanks and appreciation goes out to owners Craig and Nicole Simmons, as well as employees Liz Terra, Tony Broyles, and Christine Cornett, all of whom have provided an attractive venue and wonderful food and service for these kids !!  

“The Grandfather Challenge” program is sponsored by The Jason Project, Inc., which was formed by the parents of Jason Matthew Nipper, who passed away in June of 2014 at age 26. This private foundation provides outdoor/wilderness and hiking excursions and similar programs which are designed to build self-confidence in struggling youth, as well as trust and positive rapport with adult mentors. Because of Jason’s abiding love of the outdoors and mountain hiking, James & Cheryl  have established  “The Grandfather Challenge,” through which students navigate all of the hiking trails at Grandfather Mountain.  Although the program includes at-risk kids suffering from mental problems and/or drug addictions, the program also seeks to assist any special kids who are struggling with personal adversities, including family, school, or other personal problems or challenges. 

This non-profit organization has now formed alliances with the Avery, Catawba, Caldwell, Lincoln, and Gaston County School systems, representing many high schools and middle schools.

The Jason Project, Inc. provides hiking boots, backpacks, socks, raincoats, professional guides, and all other costs associated with this program. At the successful completion of each round of hikes, the youth participants are each given a Certificate Of Completion and a gift certificate at an awards ceremony in their honor. These school kids are always thrilled to celebrate their completion of this course at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk, which is a major highlight of this program !   Anyone seeking further information about “The Grandfather Challenge” and/or who may wish to sponsor a student may contact James or Cheryl Nipper at (828) 765-6561 or (904) 354-7378, or via email at james@jamesnipper.com, or visit their Go Fund Me page at GoFundMe.com/TheJasonProject.

Our sincerest thanks goes out to Bella’s in Banner Elk, NC for supporting The Jason Project, Inc. and “The Grandfather Challenge!”