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Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk Hosts Awards Dinners for ‘The Grandfather Challenge’ Hiking Program for At-Risk 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 Nipper established “The Grandfather Challenge,” through which middle and high school students, through a series of four weekly hikes, navigate all of the rigorous 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.

After the completion of their grueling, rigorous, and challenging eight-hour “Grand-Daddy” hike as the final trek of “The Grandfather Challenge,” hike series, middle and high school students from all over Western North Carolina are always excited to arrive at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk, NC for their coveted Awards Dinner! This celebratory event at this wonderful venue is always full of excitement, celebration, and outstanding food!

Since the inception of this program in 2015, Bella’s has graciously hosted these celebrations in their intimate Banquet Room and has fully supported and accommodated these school groups that come from Avery, Catawba, Caldwell, Lincoln, and Gaston County Schools. As our local community well knows, Bella’s is the ultimate “go-to” place for the very best, superb Italian food, including pizzas, lasagna, carbonara, calzones, and other delectable Italian dishes. Our hiking program kids always love having a fine meal and celebrating at Bella’s, and consider this to be a very special occasion that they cherish, and will long remember!! Our deepest thanks and appreciation goes out to owners Craig and Nicole Simmons, as they have remained loyal and supportive of our program, even when staffing became so difficult as a result of covid conditions. Through it all, Bella’s has continued to provide an attractive venue and wonderful food and service for these kids !!

Our sincerest thanks go out to Bella’s for supporting The Jason Project, Inc. and “The Grandfather Challenge!”

To learn more about The Jason Project and “The Grandfather Challenge program and its activities and goals, please go to www.tinyurl.com/TheJasonProject2021 .