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The new year got off to a fast start for more than 100 kids.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s Spring Valley area command, along with the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada, GameACon, Storm Rush Gaming, Ready Up, Anthem Blue Cross and Button Smashers, hosted a free Mario Kart tournament on Jan. 8.

Button Smashers CEO Keith Waggoner said close to 120 kids signed up for the day-long tournament at Lied Memorial Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada.

“I couldn’t have asked for better,” Waggoner said. “It exceeded my expectations. They were from all over Vegas, including a lot of Spring Valley kids. They came out in full force. A lot of kids stuck around and had a lot of fun.”

In addition to the tournament, several raffle prizes, including a PlayStation 5, were given out with food available and celebrities taking photos with fans.

Most importantly, it gave kids a chance to see friends in person.

“It brings some normalcy back to life,” Waggoner said. “A lot of these kids are 7 to 15 years old. That’s pretty young for them to have spend two years living in the pandemic. It’s great for them to come out and have fun with their friends. It was smiles all around, and it was good to see that again.”

Waggoner said this is not the last event they’ll help put on this year. Because, while hosting online events is fun, Waggoner believes there is importance in holding in-person events.

“We love doing things online, but we love the community even more and being face to face, just like the good old days,” Waggoner said.

Contact Lukas Eggen at leggen@reviewjournal.com. Follow @LukasEggen on Twitter.

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