On April 27, Levittown held its first countywide track and field event thanks to the quick thinking of Officer Rich Barkey of the Police Activity League's Levittown Unit and the staunch determination of Councilman Gary Hudes of Levittown. Hudes began a drive several years ago to have a new track installed at Division High School.
"The school administration came through for us on short notice and graciously accommodated our needs to find a facility to hold our event." says Officer Barkey. "After being bumped from Mitchel Field due to the fiscal concerns and losing Wantagh HS as a back up host, Officer Barkey did what cops do best, they make hard decisions!," said commissioner of the program, Anthony Segarra. " I don't know what we would do without him; he brings respect and integrity to the table, our kids look up to his leadership and guidance."
"When the petition started circulating for the new track, I was very surprised that anyone cared enough to get involved, but apparently others did!", said Segarra. Known as "Coach Tony" to the kids in the program, for the past seven years he has been working with Coach Anna Stone and team mom, Kathleen Ronan to make this program a successful one. This year's new addition, Coach Joe was a coup. " Joe and I have worked together on various projects in the Levittown Community Council and Chamber of Commerce." " He is an avid runner and writes the newsletter for the Massapequa Road Runner's Club." When he heard the size of our team, he laughed and said, " You need help!"
"Our predecessors (Jim and Chris Morrow) were wonderful coaches and we miss them terribly, but after 20 plus years in the program it was time for them to get their lives back. Fortunately I had a couple of good years with them to get my feet wet." said Segarra.
"Ever since the drive to have this track commenced, we had great hopes that someday we could host an event here in Levittown," said Team Mom Kathleen. "With the program growing steadily all these years and with 120 members signed up, I think it is fair to say, it is a success!" said Board President Ed Lloyd.
This year was especially important to the PAL Board of volunteers. In light of 9/11, we were worried what effect it would have on the children. We know what effect it has had on us as adults. The board voted to change our logos to promote our National pride and empower the children. "We decided to use the American flag as a field to our PAL logo," said Lloyd. "I was speechless when I saw them," said Segarra. "They embodied everything I wanted to say all along to the kids. 'Be proud of who you are, where you come from, for you are special. You are an individual unique from all others.' It is about the children after all." All the programs run by the PAL are meant to empower the children, build confidence...to show them that they can achieve their personal goals with hard work and determination and still have fun.
"It has to be fun for them, that is first and foremost," said Coach Tony. "They are always on, everyone scrutinizing their every move all day long. I wanted this to be a program where they could just be themselves and have fun. A place for them to just be children, they are after all children, right?"