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Wings' pair goes on shopping spree

by Craig Peterson / Detroit Red Wings
Forward Luke Glendening went holiday shopping with 10 children with Down syndrome as part of his program Gametime with Glendening. (Photo by Craig Peterson/Detroit Red Wings)
NORTHVILLE, Mich. — A shopping spree. Children of all ages everywhere dream of doing this, especially as Christmas lists continue to grow with the holiday season approaching.

Red Wings Danny DeKeyser and Luke Glendening helped make 20 children’s dreams come true, pacing up and down the toy aisles of Meijer in Northville. Partnering with local Detroit charities, DeKeyser’s Hometown Heroes and Gametime with Glendening programs teamed up to provide each child with a $125 spending limit on Tuesday.

“It’s special to be able to give back and be around these kids and their families is exciting for me,” Glendening said. “To know they’re gonna have a good Christmas is special.”

Larry Johns accompanied his daughter Loren on her shopping spree and said the event was an opportunity to make the holidays more memorable.

“Because of the challenges she faces, she misses out on a lot of other opportunities," Larry Johns said. "So this is an opportunity for her to celebrate who she is as an individual and be recognized.”

Glendening’s program selected 10 children with Down syndrome — five from Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan and five from Down Syndrome Support Team — to participate in the event. The cause is something Glendening has worked closely with since his time spent in Grand Rapids, Mich., when he frequented special needs classrooms. Now, he hosts a child with Down syndrome and his or her family at every Wings home game and meets with the family after the game as part of his Gametime with Glendening program.

Similarly, DeKeyser’s Hometown Heroes hosts one active or retired military member and a guest at each home game. DeKeyser shopped alongside 10 children and their chaperones from Operation Military Kids.

“I don’t think you see this going on too often,” DeKeyser said. “I think Luke and I have a pretty good opportunity today to help some people out and hopefully make their Christmas a little bit better.”

Meijer Holiday Shopping Spree

The two groups of children descended on the toy section of Meijer after enjoying a pizza party in the conference room. Both Red Wings' players signed autographs and took photos with families and spent time with each child picking out toys in the store.

“It’s cool that we get to come out and do the shopping with them,” Glendening said. “I don’t know that we’re gonna pick the gifts for them but just give them our input. I don’t know right now what’s cool for kids but I’m sure I’ll find out.”

From Barbies to Spiderman, the Wings' duo saw it all and at the end of the day, 20 children left with arms full of new toys for the holidays.

John Sagert said it will be the memories, not the toys, that his son Christian will take back to Holly, Mich., and remember in the years to come.

“It’s really cool,” Sagert said. “He’ll never forget it.”

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