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Bailout Comes at Perfect Time for Sholas

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
James Shola (right) enjoys the Dec. 6 game vs. Phoenix with his children. The Sholas were randomly selected to receive mortgage assistance as part of the Blues Fan Bailout Plan.
James Shola came home from work last Friday to find his wife, Laura, in tears.

As an owner of a cleaning service company, Laura was informed by her biggest client that her services would no longer be needed after December. It wasn’t because of poor job performance…it was simply a budget decision designed to help the company during tough economic conditions.

“Just terrible. That was pretty much our mortgage,” James said. “It was such a blow to us when my wife was laid off.”

But as they say, life goes on.

The Sholas saw Saturday’s game vs. Phoenix as an opportunity to escape their financial concerns at home. They purchased four upper bowl tickets and used the game to welcome home their daughter Kathleen, who recently returned from Baghdad where she worked as a military intelligence officer.

Their seats were in the very top row at Scottrade Center, but to them, it didn’t matter. They watched as the Blues honored Keith Tkachuk in a pregame ceremony for his 1,000th NHL point. They watched the Blues and Coyotes battle for two points and for just a moment, they forgot about the financial burden they faced back home.

To their shock, they were announced as winners of the Fannie and Freddie Mortgage giveaway in the second period on Saturday. For four months, the mortgage on their New Haven home would be paid for by the Blues…and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I can’t tell you what it meant to us,” James said about the promotion. “What a decent thing, how decent the Blues are. I’m so delighted with this ownership group. Obviously, they’re building the team, but just the way they’re reaching out to fans. They’re good people and I’m impressed.”

James continues to work in the automotive industry and fears he could be laid off at any time. He said his family will begin making better travel plans to save on gas and start clipping coupons out of the paper.

“There are layoffs coming (for us), I know they are. We’ve been told that,” James said.

For the Sholas, the outlook isn’t all that good. But thanks to the Fan Bailout Plan, the Blues are giving them a chance to stay afloat.

“My house is old, an 1876-house,” James said. “It’s just beautiful, it’s like a park here with a big lake across the street. Beautiful view.”

The Blues will be offering mortgage assistance at every remaining Saturday home game this season. One winner is randomly selected…simply having a ticket gives fans a chance to win.

“I was really surprised, just shocked, really,” James said. “The odds that I had that ticket…”

His voice trailed off.

“I’m at a loss for words still.”
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