CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eyewitness News was there when the Charlotte Checkers helped one of their biggest fans Sunday.
Luke Brenes watches his Checkers like any young fan. He has favorite players and favorite plays, but without his hearing aids, he can't hear the fans or the announcer. Brenes is nearly deaf. He isn't letting that stand in his way.
"You feel free," Luke Brenes said. "You feel great when you start playing."
He fell in love with the sport after seeing a Checkers game for the first time. Now he's a talented player whose been invited to an exclusive hockey summer camp for hearing impaired kids. And he's devoted his time to helping other children with hearing issues.
"I want to help these kids because I know how bad it feels," Brenes said.
"What Luke has done is raise awareness," his father Robert Brenes said. "His school and another school raised $1,000 going door to door with buckets, collecting change."
This team has been so inspired by Luke's story that they've adopted him as part of the team. They gave back to him Sunday and to other kids who are facing similar challenges.
Players and fans raised $5,000 for Beginnings of North Carolina, an organization that helps families with deaf or hard of hearing children. The executive director said the money will go a long way, especially since many families can't afford hearing aids.
"They can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000 a pair, and unfortunately every insurance company doesn't cover it," Beginnings Executive Director Joni Alberg said.
Brenes will also be getting some extra hockey gear.