Thirteen years ago, Tom Sabellico, a community leader in Farmingdale, met Rosendo "Rusty" Torres, a former centerfielder for the New York Yankees. They formed an instant friendship based on their common love for helping children. They began presenting life skills programs and clinics for children. They then enlisted the help of friends and started distributing equipment to needy children and youth groups.
In 1998 they founded Winning Beyond Winning, a 501-c-3, charitable organization, whose mission is to cross-train young athletes for life and to help young athletes by using the talents and life experiences of former professional athletes. Since Winning Beyond Winning was formed, they have presented programs to more than 40,000 children. The programs have included career day presentations, life skills clinics and workshops, race relation conferences, alcohol and drug abuse seminars, and conferences for high school athletes including seminars on Womens Health Issues, Gambling and Sports, Violence and Sports, and other important issues. The programs have been presented mainly throughout the tri-state area, but Sabellico and Torres and friends have traveled as far away as Orlando, Florida, to present life skills programs to the boys and girls participating in Major League Baseball's RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities).
Sabellico and Torres have worked with more than 60 former professional athletes as speakers and clinicians, including former Yankees, Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Ryne Duren, Phil Linz, Bobby Murcer, and Frank Tepedino, former Mets, Felix Millan, Buddy Harrelson, Al Jackson, Ed Kranepool, Mookie Wilson, and many other former major leaguers, including Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Al Downing, Dave Stewart, Ralph Garr, Fred Valentine, Chuck Schilling and Chuck Hinton. Thanks to the linguistic skills of Torres and Felix Millan, and Mudcat Grant, many of the programs have been presented in Spanish and English, to help reach the children in the audience.
Although the programs have been presented over a wide geographic area, many of the programs have been presented in this area because of Sabellico and Torres' roots here. In February, 2005, Sabellico and Torres were joined by former New York Jet, Bobby Jackson, and Ryne Duren and Fred Valentine, in a Black History Month presentation to over 500 students at Howitt Middle School. In June, 2005, Sabellico presented a program in the Amityville School District featuring Ryne Duren, Mudcat Grant, Al Downing and Dave Stewart. Later this month, a program will be presented to the Plainview Elementary School students.
This past weekend, Sabellico and Torres attended the 12th Annual Latin-American Little League World Series in Red Hook Park, Brooklyn, sponsored by the Hispanic-American Sports Coalition (La Coalicion Deportiva Hispana-Americana, Inc.). Sixteen teams from New York City, Boston and Connecticut, consisting of players 12U, participated in the event. Both Sabellico and Torres have been attending the Series every September and have worked in conjunction with several of the teams involved to provide them with equipment. They have been instrumental in having the charity work with other organizations to donate used and refurbished baseball equipment to several teams including the Felix Millan Little League, and teams in Puerto Rico and Nicaragua. Both Sabellico and Torres have been recognized by the Hispanic-American Sports Coalition for their outstanding work in promoting youth sports opportunities for Latino youth.
If you are interested in having Winning Beyond Winning present a program at a school or youth group in your area, please contact Tom Sabellico at WBWinning@aol.com.