Officer Buys Gym Membership for Teen Instead of Arresting Him

Officer Buys Gym Membership for Teen Instead of Arresting Him


Teenager Vincent Gonzales was repeatedly caught sneaking into a gym, X-Sport Fitness, in Skokie, Illinois. Employee, Justin Pritchet warned him time and again, but Vincent kept returning. So, when Vincent snuck past the front desk again one October afternoon, Pritchett called the police. When Officer Mario Valenti arrived, he decided to take out his wallet instead of handcuffs. “He pulled out all of the money in his wallet and asked, “How much time does $150 get?” The answer was about 3-4 months of a gym membership. X-Sport Fitness management was so moved by this gesture, that they gave him a 2-year membership, which is worth about $700. “For the officer to respond the way he did and turn a negative situation into an unbelievably positive situation, that’s just fantastic,” Pritchett said.

Turns out, Gonzales used to have a membership, but his mother could no longer afford the monthly dues. According to reports, Gonzales just wanted to play ball. Officer Valenti was happy to help. “You get satisfaction out of helping people, especially because our job is so negative,” Valenti said. Gonzales was moved by the officer’s actions and expressed his thanks. “I thought it was really nice. I texted him and I said ‘thank you,'” Gonzales said. “That meant a lot.”

Joe’s Perspective: Turning a negative into a positive. This could have been another teenager getting arrested for breaking the law. Gonzales could have easily become a statistic, lost to the streets of Chicago. Thanks to the generosity of the police officer and ultimately the employee, this kid can now work out and have fun with his friends. My guess is this story will have a happy ending.

Your Turn: If you were the officer called to the gym, what would you have done? Would you give your money to a random stranger who was breaking the law?


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  1. I believe I would just talk to the kid, probably wouldn’t arrest him either. I don’t k ow if I would have given him 150 bucks to help with a membership because somethes you can’t just whip that out. I would definitely try to help him though.

  2. I believe i would talk to the kid and see what was going on that got him sneaking into the gym. I honesty dont feel like i would have arrested him for just wanting to play ball. I dont know if i would pay $150 but i like hope if i had money like that that i would.

  3. He was a kid trying to play basketball he wasn’t hurting anyone and he was probably trying to stay away from bigger problems that were outside that gym. So if I was the officer I would of not arrested him and if I had the money I would of the same as Officer Mario.

  4. I would talk to the kid to see what was going on, and then I’d offer my help. I wouldn’t be giving my money to a stranger, I’d be giving it towards the gym membership for a boy who just wants to play ball and nowadays you don’t see a lot of that. I find it interesting that this boy was sneaking into a gym just to play. It’s awesome, actually. Most teenage boys would be out there on the streets doing god knows what but he was sneaking into a gym to play ball. It’s pretty awesome.

  5. I believe after having a conversation with him, I would be willing to help because it would benefit him much more to help him out then arrest him for pursuing his passion

  6. If I was the one called to the gym I wouldn’t know what do to about that. No, I wouldn’t give money to a random stranger because if he/she broke the law and I give them my money it would make me an accomplice.

  7. If I was called to the gym, once I would have found the teen I wouldnt arrest him right away. I mean if ive been warning you not to sneak in and you keep coming, I know they’re not doing it to annoy me. Honestly I would most likely talk to the teen and try to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing which could get him in trouble. I wouldnt necessarily just pay the workers to get him a membership right away, I would tell the teen, “This gonna be the last time you sneak in, you might get in trouble and you wont get the benefit of the doubt”. After listening to his story and knowing why he’s doing what he’s doing I feel he deserves it cause he just wants to play basketball. Plus you never know, that random act of kindness can be payed back to you one day.

  8. Well it depends on what he/she would use the money for so if it is for a good reason then I would be happy to give money to he/she.

  9. If it was me I would wanna find out why the kid is sneaking in then i would help him out but not by giving him the money I would make him earn it because in life things are not just given to you .

  10. If I was the police officer I would not have arrested him.I understand what he did was wrong but, the poor boy just wanted to play basketball. I’m sure he would be better of playing basketball instead of being out on the streets getting into trouble. The police officer was very kind and I feel there are two very important things that the boy will learn from this. First, police officers do care about people and are willing to help you. Second, I hope the boy appreciated this kindness and will take the opportunity to help others in need.

  11. I think I would’ve talked to the kid and asked why he kept sneaking into the place despite the fact that he could get in trouble. After him telling me the situation I probably would’ve helped him out as well because he obviously would do less harm there than on the streets. Clearly he would’ve used that membership so it wouldn’t have been a waste of money in any way.

  12. If I were to be called into that situation as a police officer, I would have asked the kid why he continued to break the law despite being warned not to. However, there are a lot worse things that a teen could be doing than sneaking into a gym to play a game he/she loves to play. For that, I would willingly give $150 to the kid because it could be the difference between falling into a bad future or leading a better way to a successful future.

  13. If I were the officer I would have talked to the kid and asked why he had been repeatedly sneaking into the gym when he was told multiple times not to and why did he keep doing if he knew that one day he’d get caught. I don’t know if I would have just taken out my wallet and given a stranger $150 for a membership but I would have paid for a membership if the person had a good explination or reason why they kept breaking the law.

  14. I would ask why he is doing it and if it’s just to play basketball and he is not doing anything wrong I would give him my money.

  15. I would have talked to he kid just like the officer did and when I realize that he wasn’t doing anything wrong once he was in the gym then I would probably do the same as officer valenti. The kid wasn’t breaking anything or hurting anyone he just wanted to play basketball and I would give him the chance. This might change his life and keep him off the streets and out do trouble

  16. If I were the cop I think I would have helped him out. Even though he broke the law there are worse things to brake than sneaking in to play basketball. He was just trying to do what he loves. I would have had a talk with him before I helped him out though.

  17. Yes, I think that I would have helped him out because he did not seem like he intended harm and seemed determined and hardworking. However, I probably would have warned him to abide by the law next time.

  18. If I were the officer I would of asked him what his reason was for sneaking in. Once he told me his story I would help him out in anyway possible. I would also tell him to stop sneaking in because he is breaking the law.

  19. He was a kid trying to play basketball he wasn’t hurting anyone and he was probably trying to stay away from bigger problems that were outside that gym. So if I was the officer I would of not arrested him and if I had the money I would of the same as Officer Mario.

  20. I think that the kid has just as much of a chance as anyone else to be great someday at something such as basketball and if that is what he wants and is unable to reach his goal legally and this officer is kind enough to help then I commend him

  21. I would talk to the kid about why he keeps sneaking into a gym and then tell him that I’m glad he’s doing something that doesn’t involve drugs but he’s still breaking the law and tell the young kid that I will bring him a membership and help him/her out if they need anything else

  22. I Don’t think I wouldn’t arrest him or pay that money, but I would definitely talk to him about it and maybe talk to the front desk to work out a situation for him to play.

  23. I wouldn’t have arrested him and I would have payed for his memebership too because he wanted to play basketball and anything to do to keep someone out of trouble and going the wrong path

  24. I would pull him aside and ask him why he was sneaking inside the gym later on from hearing what he had to say I would pay for him but once I would tell him to help out his mom because if his mom can’t afford it that means she needs help it doesn’t have to be financially but it could be helping her around the house I’ll give him the advice that his mother doesn’t need his son getting in trouble that every little good thing in life would come to him but that he needs to be patient and that there are basketball courts at the park for free but That would be my small talk with him and let him enjoy the 2 year membership

  25. I would discuss with the person the issue of what they were doing and come up with possible outcomes if he came across this in the future but then in fact pay for a membership.

  26. I would have done the same thing because it is unfair to deprive this kid of a good time, and it is clear that he wanted to play what he loves and live an active lifestyle.

  27. I would have done the same if the teens having money problems and the mom can’t afford the gym membership cars and all he wanted to do ball instead of causing trouble.

  28. After seeing this not everyone should feel obligated to willingly give out $150. However, when someone hears something like this it can inspire them to do something similar when given the opportunity.

  29. I feel that cops get a bad name put on then but at the end of the day there doing their job and the fact that he bought him a gym membership makes it even better because he is keeping him off the streets

  30. I thought it was good that the cop bought the kid the membership to keep him off the streets and the cops just trying to his job and thought it was good that the kid wasn’t arrested

  31. yes because he had nowhere to go and it’s Chicago for goodness sakes it’s ,dangerous just to walk to a store for a piece of bread if he wanted to basketball and that’s all he wanted to do I would help him too.