It was Super Hero Night at Valparaiso University on Friday. As Valpo’s beloved basketball team took on conference rivals Oakland University. Fans were dressed in superhero garb, soldiers from the Indiana National Guard were welcomed on the floor before the game, there was a half time game between two local police and fire departments, along with other fun super hero games.
But behind it all there was one organization who sponsored it - McDonald’s of Northwest Indiana. With real and costumed super heroes, a super organization, and a basketball team worthy of the hero title, Friday night at the ARC was a night that lived up to it’s theme.
It was an easy connection when McDonald’s and Valparaiso University partnered together. One is a college that gives back to their community as much as they get back, and one is an organization that truly puts well being of the Region first. Bob Mazzaro, President of the McDonald’s Operators of Northwest Indiana, was on hand to give away the game ball before Valparaiso University took on Oakland. Just one part of the jam packed hero’s night, McDonald’s was happy to be on hand to start off the night right. McDonald’s has been a proud sponsor of VU games for over half a decade, and Mazzaro stated that their relationship aligns up with the McDonald’s mission so it makes sense for them to support such a great community event.
“We’ve sponsored Valparaiso University games for the past six years.” Mazzaro stated. “It’s been a great relationship with the University and being able to be a part of an event that means so much to the community. McDonald’s operators put a heavy emphasis on the importance of education and community togetherness, so it was easy to make a connection with these games. It’ll be a fun game to watch - it’s always a pleasure to watch a game here.”
Mark LaBarbera, Athletic Director for Valparaiso University, had just as many good things to say about McDonald’s noting that their partnership really brings together groups that care for their community’s well being.
“McDonald’s is a fantastic partner, and a fantastic organization work with.” LaBarbera stated. “We’re all a part of the same community and [McDonald's] are great community members. They are Northwest Indiana’s team. It’s fantastic to have partners that care so much for their Northwest Indiana community and we’re happy to have them.”
Half time brought superhero night to it’s peak, by allowing Porter County’s heroes to take their chance to impress the audience at the ARC. The Porter County Sheriff’s Department and the Portage Fire Department took the floor at halftime to play a quick six minute game. William Marshall, an officer with the Porter County Sheriff's Department, said that though the game went by in a flash the officers had fun showing off a bit.
““It was really fun, a good time. The Sheriff’s Department has a team and we occasionally play games for fundraisers and things, but this the biggest crowd we’ve ever had.” Marshall stated. “It was really good as well to have a friendly competition with the Portage Fire Department. They’re a bunch of great guys - even if we ran the score up on ‘em near the end.”
“In all, Friday night was not only just a basketball game and a chance for the Crusaders to inch closer to that Horizon League title, it was a chance for the Valpo community to come together and show off it’s greatest powers - the people who make it great. Between the caring people of McDonald’s, to the men who give their lives for their country and their neighbors, and a game that brought them all together it was a night that truly showed what’s great about our region. If only every night could be like the one at the ARC.