Mario Lopez visits children at Kennewick Boys and Girls Clubhouse

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Excited kids filled the Kennewick Clubhouse as celebrity and advocate Mario Lopez toured the campus.

“I think I wish I could bundle the energy from the kids, right?” CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties.

Lopez was thoroughly impressed by the Kennewick Clubhouse.

“First of all this has got to be one of the nicest clubs I’ve ever seen, definitely wasn’t like the one I grew up in, he laughed.

As a kid, Lopez attended Boys and Girls Clubs in Chula Vista, California.

Now, he’s the Fitness Ambassador for clubs nationwide.

“It warms my heart to be able to come and visit,” Lopex said.

Lopez is in the Tri-Cities to share his story at the Dinner with Friends Fundraiser, for the Boys and Girls Club.

But first, he took the time to meet with children, play a quick game and autography their t-shirt, labeled ‘Saved by the Clubs,’ paying homage to Lopez’s classic, Saved By The Bell.

“It always kind of takes me back especially growing up because I spent so much time there and like I said this one’s very impressive, so it makes me feel good to see how far we’ve come and how it’s been taken to another level and the kids being happy, it’s great. I mean I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for the clubs, especially a hyper kid in not the most upscale neighborhood like the one I grew up in so having a place like this can change your whole like and have a really big impact,” Lopez said.

CEO Brian Ace said having a successful figure like Mario Lopez visiting their clubs, means everything to the kids.

“And meeting people like Mario, people that came from a club just like they do and cast a big vision and had a dream for their life and achieve it, that is huge for our kids because it helps them understand they can dream big, and achieve great things,” Ace said.

Lopez recalled fond memories of his time at the Boys and Girls Clubs. He said it’s where he got his started in wrestling.

“Coach Walter Micholachek to Coach Ruiz, I’ll never forget those guys and they hold a special place in my heart. For them to have a safe haven, mentors, a place that cares about them, keeps them off the street – out of trouble, it just speaks volumes. The clubs do a great job all across the country.”