In a packed Finish Line store at the Greenfield Park Mall on Sunday night, a large crowd followed a group of Pacers. But it wasn’t just any ordinary shopping trip for six members of the Blue-and-Gold – these Pacers were taking kids from the Children’s Bureau on a holiday shopping spree for the Shop With the Pacers event.
The smiles were bountiful from start to finish as the kids led C.J. Miles, Solomon Hill, and Damjan Rudez into Finish Line to start off their spree with some stylish new kicks.
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Rudez knelt down to help six-year-old David – who was showing off his spin moves in the store – measure his shoe size before buying a flashy new pair.
Solomon Hill stopped to take a picture of one of the kids in his group lacing up his new shoes before even leaving the store, because it reminded him of himself when he was young.
“I was just watching him taking the old shoes off and put his new ones on,” Hill said, “You just leave the old ones in the box and you got your new ones on. It’s a great feeling.”
C.J. Miles made the day of eight-year-old Zach when Miles bought him a pair of Heelys, a shoe with a built in roller skate in the heel.
“He’s awesome,” Zach’s father Travis said of Miles.
“I’ve got them on already!” said Zach, pointing at his dark blue Heelys.
Miles looked on at his group of energetic shoppers and smiled.
“I think it’s a big part of us as players to be able to try to (help the community) as much as we can” Miles explained, “To be able to reach back out to them is like a thank you.”
Meanwhile, Rodney Stuckey, Chris Copeland and Shayne Whittington let their groups of kids lead them in different directions, as they scattered around the Simon Mall.
Whittington found himself in Build a Bear Workshop; which he claimed was familiar territory. The rookie center has made a few trips to the store in the past to buy customized bears for his siblings, nieces, and nephews. His group of little ones on Sunday all designed their own accessorized teddy bears to take home; complete with roller skates and stylish hats.
“I’ve been the little kid. I’ve been the little guy that looks up to guys that play on TV,” said Whittington of why he loves the event. “It’s nice for us to actually come out and enjoy the fans, instead of them coming to watch us.”
Stuckey’s group was flying around the mall from the start, and seemed too have no plans of slowing down their pace.
“We went to Justice, they picked out a couple pairs of clothes. Then we went to Claire’s, got some earrings,” said Stuckey, who is used to shopping for kids since he has a 10-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son.
“I’ve been doing it for a while now,” he said with a smile.
And when asked which store they were going to hit next, Stuckey’s answer seemed to encapsulate what Shop With the Pacers is all about.
“Wherever they want to go,” He said, “it’s up to them. I’m just riding along with them.”