For the first time in her life, Lia Haile will get to attend a Green Bay Packers game.
As the Shopko Kick-Off Kid, she also will have the honor of retrieving the kicking tee off the field after the first kickoff of the showdown Sunday between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
The 13-year-old from Manitowoc has been busy making the lives of others in her community better for the past few years. She started the Hopeful Hearts Club — providing birthday parties, celebrations and meals for children living at Hope House, Manitowoc’s homeless shelter. The club has since grown to more than 700 members.
On Sunday, she will take the night off and step foot on the beautiful green of Lambeau Field as part of the Kids Making a Difference Program.
“It’s an honor to be chosen by both the Packers and Shopko for the game,” Lia said. “I’m really excited about it and I’m really looking forward to the gameday experience.”
Lia, the daughter of Tania and Dan Haile, recently was named the 2016 Tom Drill/City of Manitowoc Volunteer of the Year for her efforts at Hope House. Her hard work was recognized nationally when she and her mother were online visitors to the "Rachael Ray Show" and featured in People magazine.
Since her broader appearances, more and more people from across the country have contacted Hopeful Hearts looking to help out, further benefiting those at Hope House.
Lia is one of eight young Wisconsin leaders selected to take part in this season’s Kick Off Kid program. The Packers provided her family four tickets to watch the game, and they are bringing Lia’s grandmother, Joyce Haile, along.
On gameday, Lia will arrive early and head down to the field to mingle with the team during pregame warm-ups and then will retrieve the tee after the first kickoff of the game. Those who buy a game program also will get to read Lia’s story on the inside cover.
“Just getting to be there is very special, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Lia said.
After she and her family enjoy their first Packers game together, Lia will get back to work, as she has a number of exciting things happening with Hopeful Hearts.
They are planning a Halloween party Oct. 29 at Hope House, where people will dress up, decorate pumpkins and enjoy snacks.
A cold-weather clothing drive will run Nov. 1-15 at collection sites throughout the city. They are collecting hats, mittens, scarves, socks and gloves. She also is starting to plan for Hope House’s Thanksgiving dinner with Copps in Manitowoc.
Lia hosts monthly events for those staying at the shelter and always looks forward to the birthday parties she works on for the children, because she loves to see their reactions.
“It’s very special,” Lia said.
She hosted a Packers Tailgate Party last month, serving pizza, snacks, beverages and desserts for those at Hope House and The Haven. She also gave each child a goody bag filled with green and gold treats.
Lia and the Hopeful Hearts Club are grateful for the Lambeau opportunity, as it is another way to get the word out about the work happening in Manitowoc.
“Lia has so many great ideas and works on so many projects, but it really is the community that makes things happen,” Tania said.
For updates about the Hopeful Hearts Club and its programs or to learn more about supporting Lia’s mission, visit them on Facebook at Hopeful Hearts Club.
This article appeared recently in the Herald Times Reporter, written by Alyssa Bloechl. For more information, visit the HTR at www.htrnews.com