ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson never achieved perfect attendance in school.
"I maybe missed a day or two," said the Braves starting pitcher.
Fifty kids at D.H. Stanton Elementary School have Hudson beat. They went the entire 2006-07 school year without missing a day. For that, they were rewarded with a $100 gift card to DICK'S Sporting Goods and a chance on Saturday to shop with Braves players Hudson, Kelly Johnson, Peter Moylan, Chris Woodward and Corky Miller.
In 2005, the Braves formed a long-term partnership with D.H. Stanton that includes tutoring, mentoring and career development opportunities. Saturday's event offered plenty of incentive for kids to attend school every day.
"It's just fun to bring them in here and put some smiles on their faces," Hudson said. "It's like Christmas to them right now."
The kids were split into two groups, and each player was in charge of five students per group, though the youngsters found ways to interact with all of the Braves. The most popular attraction was the shoe section, where many kids in Hudson's group picked out their favorite pair of Heely shoes, a brand that specializes in skate-like sneakers with wheels.
For the kids, meeting the players was nice, but some enjoyed the mascot just as much.
"I liked them all, said 8-year-old Cemaj Hillman. "Especially the one with the baseball head. What was his name? Homer."
During the year, students weren't told that perfect attendance would earn them an opportunity to shop with the Braves. To Selina Coleman, D.H. Stanton's program coordinator with communities in schools, that made the accomplishment even more impressive.
"This is wonderful motivation for them," Coleman said. "They have been so excited. Every day, they've been counting down -- 'One more day, Ms. Coleman, two more days, Ms. Coleman.' I had kids calling me at 6 o'clock this morning. They were dressed, they were ready -- they were ready to go."
The players were at the mercy of the kids, following them around the huge three-level store. Preparation for a takeover by eager children was extensive, but DICK'S managed to pull it off.
The store had previously done similar events with the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Falcons, and its staff members were happy to provide the children with back-to-school items they may have been otherwise unable to procure.
"It's a great event," DICK'S community marketing manager Skip Turner said. "We're happy to partner with the Atlanta Braves on this. We have 50 children that went an entire year without missing a day, which is huge. I can tell you now I don't think I did that in all my years of school."
While one group was shopping, the other was enjoying McDonald's Happy Meals, another perfect item for kids. The Braves entered the store to a huge reception from the kids, who banged their fists on the tables while yelling, "Let's Go Braves." At other times, adults attempted to keep the kids quiet, but this time they didn't stand a chance.
"You see the joy and the happiness in their faces," Woodward said. "They let them go in the store and buy whatever they want. It's good for them to get what they need, and it helps everybody.
Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.