Date: May 29, 2015


ORANGE COUNTY – In an ongoing effort to keep children out of gangs, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Angels) will open their gates Monday, June 1, 2015, for the seventh consecutive year to over 1,900 at-risk students as a reward for improved school attendance and behavior and for staying out of gangs. This is the largest group of students to ever attend an Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP) Angels game.

The Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy is a reformative Youth Challenge Program with a military-style regiment for high school students that are struggling or high-risk. The Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy cadets will perform a Drill and Ceremony Routine, and two student cadets, Gabriella Perez and Eric Cobarrubio, will then talk to the students about overcoming their struggles to stay in school and out of gangs.

Clay Zamperini, grandson of Louis Zamperini, whose life was showcased last year in the film Unbroken, will make a surprise appearance to greet the students and talk about the struggles his grandfather overcame and also speak about the Victory Boys Camp, a camp started by Louis Zamperini to help troubled boys.

Media are asked to arrive at Angel Stadium at 3:00 p.m. to obtain a press pass.

In January 2015, students with severe behavioral problems, including some with as many as 10 suspensions in one school year, were identified by OC GRIP as being high-risk for gang exposure and activity. With an end-reward of attending an Angels game as a VIP guest, the students were challenged to complete the school year with improved attendance and grades, no suspensions, and involvement in positive after-school activities.

The successful students will arrive at 3:00 p.m. and have early access to Angel Stadium, where they will be seated behind the dugout and be greeted by a surprise Angels player prior to the team’s stretch and warm up. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. when the Angels face the Tampa Bay Rays.

More than 1,900 students, ages 9 to 13, in grades 4 through 8, will attend the game. They come from 46 schools, including 38 elementary schools, and eight middle schools in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Mission Viejo, Orange, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Stanton, and unincorporated North Orange County. The 1,900 students will be accompanied by 100 teacher chaperones, all as guests of the Angels, who donated over 1,900 tickets and free parking in support of the anti-gang efforts by Orange County law enforcement and schools.

The names of the 46 schools will be displayed on the Angel Vision JumboTron during the game, and representatives from Saddleback Church will entertain the students with games and prizes after the students watch the Angels’ batting practice. Law enforcement personnel will be in attendance to congratulate the students, including Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas. The students will receive meals provided by OC GRIP’s non-profit charitable organization.

The participating law enforcement agencies include the Anaheim Police Department, Buena Park Police Department, Fullerton Police Department, Garden Grove Police Department, Orange Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Probation Department, OCDA’s Bureau of Investigation, Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department, and Tustin Police Department. 


“The Angels are once again proud and privileged to work with OC GRIP,” said Angels Vice President of Communications Tim Mead. “The collaborative effort among local law enforcement agencies, the OC District Attorney’s Office, and the teachers and faculties of so many local schools continues to impress. Tracy Miller and her colleagues have conceived, nurtured, and grown a program that has made a difference not only in the lives of hundreds of children and their families, but also a positive effect on local communities as well.  We look forward to watching the continual growth and impact of this very important program.”

“We are honored and proud to support the annual Angels and OC GRIP anti-gang challenge,” said Director of the Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy, Lieutenant Colonel Joel Armstrong. “The Academy believes in second chances, and the students who took that chance to improve their behavior and attendance in school deserve this reward.  Together we can make a lasting change for the leaders of tomorrow.”

“Every year, the students who participate in the OC GRIP program and meet the challenge make me so proud,” said District Attorney Rackauckas. “These students are making the right decision to succeed in life by staying in school and out of gangs. Our law enforcement partners, their parents, and the Angels would say the same, and I am thankful that we are all working together to motivate these students in taking that positive step in the right direction.”

“The OC GRIP program has had a tremendous impact on transforming some of the kids in our city,” said Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes. “It is truly inspirational to see how partnering with parents, teachers, school staff, probation, counselors, and the OC District Attorney’s Office is helping mentor and develop the future leaders of our community.”