Checkers get a house for young fan with rare disorder - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Checkers get a house for young fan with rare disorder

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Friday night 11-year old Zach Bennett and his family got a life-changing gift at the Charlotte Checkers game -- a house in Matthews.

Zach has a condition called neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder in which tumors grow on his nerves.

He lives with his family in Albany, New York, where until this season he was a huge fan of the Albany River Rats.  The Checkers bought the River Rats and the players moved to Charlotte this season.

"I miss them a lot," Zach said.

Now Zach and his family will get the chance to live near the team again, as well as be close to doctors who can help Zach's disorder.

Friday night the team presented the Bennett family with keys to a home in Matthews.  Volunteers with Timberstone Homes helped make the house wheelchair accessible.

WEB VIDEO: Zach talks about his excitement about moving to Charlotte

"Amazing," Zach's mom Danielle said of the house.  "It was perfect."

The team first brought Zach down from Albany to a home game in January.

At the time, Zach and his family said they wanted to move to Charlotte to be closer to good doctors and so Zach could be closer to the team.

But father Randy Bennett never expected what came next, when the team called him after the visit.

"They said we're going to start phase two of this," he said.  "And we were like, phase two?  We didn't even know there was a phase one."

After raising money and getting volunteer help, the Checkers say they were able to get the home for the Bennetts.  The team says it won't cost the family a dime.

"They went way above and beyond anything we could imagine," Randy said.

Zach says he's thrilled to be moving closer to his favorite team.

He's a spunky kid -- he says his favorite thing about hockey is the fights.

"I like to see them fighting each other," he said.

From their time in Albany Zach got to know many of the players on the Checkers.

In fact, he and the players made a deal.

"If they win the game, I have to practice on my stumps," Zach said.

His "stumps" are prosthetic legs Zach practices walking on.  Right wing Brad Herauf texts Zach after games to make sure he's doing it.

Now Herauf will be able to check with Zach in person.

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