Paradise High students invited by 49ers to attend Monday night game in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A special group of teenagers has been invited to attend Monday night's 49ers game against the New York Giants. They're members of the Paradise High School football team, their coaches and their cheerleaders. They were provided tickets by the 49ers.

There's no question about the stress, trauma and sadness that residents of Paradise have been dealing with as the Camp Fire destroyed their town. For one night, some of the town's high school students have a chance to set that aside and enjoy an evening of NFL action.

The contingent of 68 arrived aboard two yellow school buses provided by the school district in neighboring Chico and paid for by the 49ers.

MAPS: A look at the Camp Fire in Butte County and other California fires

Paradise has a special connection to the 49ers. It's the home town of 49er assistant strength and conditioning coach Shane Wallen, whose father lost his house in the wildfire. Wallen feels strongly about the need to reach out and help all the victims in Paradise. As the buses pulled into the parking lot at Levi's Stadium, we talked to a couple of the Paradise students, who expressed their gratitude for the 49ers' kindness.

One of them was football player Kasten Ortiz, who said they've gone through a lot in the past few days, and he's grateful for the opportunity to step away and to see his first ever pro football game.

Another was cheerleader Adrianna Marciella, whom we watched hug two of the players. They have not seen each other since the fire swept across town, and they were worried for each other's safety.

RELATED: Camp Fire smoke from Butte County prompts Spare the Air Alert extension

Adrianna wished that more people could experience the love extended by the 49ers and others. She said Paradise is a special place in which every resident treats each other like family.

The students from Paradise had boarded bright yellow school buses this morning around 10:30 for the four-hour drive to Santa Clara. Many were sporting the school's colors of green, gold and white. Their mascot is the Bobcat. They were accompanied by football coach Rick Prinz and school principal Loren Lighthall.

As they formed a column to enter the stadium, tailgaters outside recognized who they were, and they were given a round of applause. There's little doubt that other fans at the Monday night game will do something similar once they're aware they are attending the game. The group is also expected to meet team general manager John Lynch.

See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire in Butte County.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.