Suns' Gorilla Visits Rim Country Youngsters June 22

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The Phoenix Suns Gorilla will visit Rim Country Middle School June 22 to participate in a Tobacco Free program sponsored by Gila County Schools.

The nationally renowned Phoenix Suns Gorilla is coming to Payson, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., June 22 in the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium.

During the first performance, the audience will consist of the youngsters participating in the summer recreation program.

Town Sports Coordinator Teddy Pettet estimates about 150 youngsters ages 6 to 14 will attend.

The second performance will be for players participating in the town fast-pitch softball program.

Pettet also will welcome players from Little League if they are interested.

The Gorilla's performances will be a part of a Tobacco Awareness program --nhale Life --ponsored by the Gila County Schools with a grant from the Department of Health Services.

The mascot coordinator, Paul Smith, said the show in Payson "is going to be awesome."

The performance begins with Smith reading a story about the harmful effects of tobacco and the Gorilla acting out a part. The Gorilla then demonstrates how staying away from tobacco helps youngsters become better athletes.

"He'll do hockey, tennis and then his favorite sport, of course, basketball," Smith said.

A video also will be shown and city of Phoenix firefighters will participate.

"It's very interactive and we give some prizes away," Smith said.

Christine Roca of the county Tobacco-Free Environment program helped stage the Gorilla's appearance.

There is no admission charge.

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