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Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk Hosts Awards Dinners for ‘The Grandfather Challenge’ Hiking Program for At-Risk Kids

By James Nipper

After the completion of their eight-hour, grueling, and rigorous “Grand-Daddy” hike as the final trek of “The Grandfather Challenge,” hike series, the kids are always excited to arrive at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk 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 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 knows, Bella’s is the ultimate “go to” place for the very best, superb Italian food, including pizzas, lasagna, 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 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.  To learn more about this project, please go to www.tinyurl.com/TheJasonProject2018 .

These middle and high school kids are always thrilled to celebrate their completion of “The Grandfather Challenge” at Bella’s Italian Restaurant in Banner Elk! Our sincerest thanks goes out to Bella’s in Banner Elk for supporting The Jason Project, Inc. and “The Grandfather Challenge!”