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Gladiators foundation gives out annual grants

DULUTH - In its fourth year, the Gwinnett Gladiators Foundation for Kids raised about $50,000 in grant money that was recently distributed among 17 area children's charities, the team announced.

Checks were presented to recipient organizations during intermission at last Saturday's regular-season finale versus the Charlotte Checkers, said Jim Hall, director of community relations for the Gladiators.

The foundation raised money through several fan-based events during the team's season, including an online jersey and equipment auction and a night in which Gladiators players served fans at a restaurant.

The foundation has raised about $140,000 since its inception, Hall said.

"We live in an extremely generous community; we've just got the best fans in the world," Hall said. "And we're just very blessed and pleased to serve these groups that do terrific things on behalf of children."

The foundation requires that grant recipients use the money for educational, recreational or health and human services purposes that improve the quality of life of children in need.

Kristin Connor, executive director of Cure Childhood Cancer, said the grant money her nonprofit received will go toward funding a program that reaches out to area families of children who have recently been diagnosed with cancer.

"It's a time of enormous anxiety and we want to be there for them in that time of crisis," she said.

The Foster Children's Foundation, a Gwinnett organization that serves more than 1,000 children annually, was another 2008 grant recipient.

"The Gladiators have just been wonderful to work with," said Suzanne Geske, the organization's executive director. "Not only with the (financial) contribution, but with their time."