Local teen meets Carley Rae Jepsen in Vegas


Thirteen-year-old TJ Saccoccio thought his mother was kidding when she told him he won a trip to Las Vegas, but sure enough, last week he was in Sin City for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Saccoccio, who is in the eighth grade at Gorton Junior High School, was one of only seven teens in the country to win the chance to fly to Las Vegas for #UniteLIVE: The Concert to Rock Out Bullying featuring singer Carley Rae Jepsen. Saccoccio and the other winners had the chance to meet Jepsen and other celebrities. Students and educators from the Las Vegas area were also invited to attend the concert.

Jepsen is best known for singing the hit song, “Call Me Maybe.”

“My mom just entered my name and e-mail online,” said Saccoccio. His was then randomly selected, and Saccoccio and his mom left for Las Vegas on Oct. 2 for a three-day trip.

The sweepstakes was sponsored by USA Network’s public service initiative Character Unite, Cox Communications and R&R Partners Foundation’s youth anti-bullying campaign Flip The Script. Saccoccio explained that before the Oct. 3 concert at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, he and other teens attended a conference to talk about bullying and increasing tolerance in the community.

“We had a conference with all the kids about cyber-bullying, and what we could do to stop it,” explained Saccoccio, adding that Jepsen and the other celebrities also spoke about their experiences with bullying.

“It was kind of cool to hear that everyone got bullied at one time or another,” said Saccoccio.

Other celebrities that Saccoccio was able to meet included Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” Mechad Brooks of USA Network’s “Necessary Roughness,” James Roday of USA Network’s “Psych,” and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar Sheamus.

Saccoccio said he most enjoyed meeting Brooks.

“He was probably the coolest,” said Saccoccio. “I actually got to have a conversation with him.”

Saccoccio, who turns 14 in just two weeks, also enjoyed getting to visit Las Vegas.

“It was actually really interesting,” said Saccoccio. “It’s so different in Las Vegas.”

The cost of airfare and the hotel were covered by the sweepstakes.

While staying at the MGM Grand Hotel, Saccoccio did have the opportunity to sightsee, and his favorite experience, outside of the concert, was riding the roller coaster at the New York, New York Hotel. Saccoccio said he is a big fan of roller coasters and getting to ride that one was a lot of fun.

Saccoccio also said that even though the flight was long, he got to see something pretty amazing.

“We saw the Grand Canyon from the plane,” he said. “That was pretty cool.”

USA Network and R&R Partners Foundation are also sponsoring the “Unite Against Bullying Commercial Challenge.” Middle and high school students are invited to submit their original ideas for a commercial to air on USA Network during Characters Unite Month in February and online. The challenge runs through Nov. 20. To find out more information, visit unitelive.charactersunite.com.


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