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March 15, 2006 - PAL Awards Honor Kids, Coaches, Parents

What: Appreciation banquet for volunteers of the PAL

Where: City Auditorium

When: March 15, 2006

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices: free

Beneficiary: Colorado Springs Police Athletic League, at-risk youth

EMCEE: Sgt. Creighton Brandt and Sgt. Kirk Wilson

Executive Director: Liz Bratsky

Speaker: Mayor Lionel Rivera, Chief Luis Velez, Bobby Purify, Coach Barry Cosby

Sponsors: Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Carl's Jr., Grafitti's, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the City of Colorado Springs

Quote of the evening: "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."--Coach Barry Cosby, quoting Mark Twain

Menu: Sub sandwiches, chips, cookies

Attendance: 600

Attire: Come as you are


Event Coordinator: Liz Bratsky

Board of Directors: President, Lieutenant Rafael "Ralph" Cintron; Vice President, Mr. Alan Zetterberg; 2nd Vice President, Mr. Edgardo Cintron; Secretary, Mr. Matthew Ramirez; Treasurer, Sgt. Cari Graves; PAL Program Manager, Sgt. Timothy Stankey; PAL Program Director, Ms. Liz Bratzky. Board Members: Pat Rigdon, Robbie Gower, Rachel Nakamura, Scott Wisler, Kirk Wilson, Creighton Brandt Pamela Tucker; Advisory Council Members: Doug Gifford, Jeremy Kniffen, Shirley Moorhead, Bob Ownbey; Exofficio Director Luis Velez, Chief of Police, CSPD

Blacktie Photos by: Pamela Cress

 PAL graduate and former CU football star Bobby Purify, left, is joined by Sgt. Kirk Wilson, PAL Executive Director Liz Bratsky and Sgt. Creighton Brandt.
PAL graduate and former CU football star Bobby Purify, left, is joined by Sgt. Kirk Wilson, PAL Executive Director Liz Bratsky and Sgt. Creighton Brandt.

Pamela Cress

T he kids were overflowing with enthusiasm and team spirit. The parents and coaches were brimming with pride. The 2006 Police Athletic League Winter Awards Ceremony was the culmination of a season full of triumphs, sportsmanship, competition and achievement--goals that drive PAL's existence and which are recognized in the Colorado Springs community through this program.

The spirit of positive mentoring and development was highly evident Wednesday night as about 600 participants filled the City Auditorium to applaud and honor those active in the PAL program.

Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera and Colorado Springs Police Chief Luis Velez were among the dignitaries on hand to accept awards and express their support for this successful and motivating program. Mayor Rivera told the crowd how appreciative he was for the PAL activities making a positive impact on kid's lives. He told the crowd, "From the bottom of my heart, thanks to those involved, to the parents for getting their kids involved, and to the kids who participate."

Chief Velez also expressed his gratitude and said, "I am honored to be a part of this program, and thank you to the parents, coaches and 600 young people who take part in this program."

Honor guard members from Helen Hunt Elementary Cub Scout Troop 15 came on stage to post the colors, as everyone proudly recited the pledge of allegiance, followed by a speech by Coach Barry Cosby. It was evident in Coach Cosby's address why he has been a successful contributor to PAL programs for the past seven years. "I have three things to tell you," Cosby said. "Love your family, whole-heartedly. Be surprised. And always give praise and thanks to one another."

An award was presented to the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation (accepted by Jessica Klem) for their support in making it possible to offer scholarships to assist those in financial need. Additionally, community partners were thanked, including the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, John Adams Elementary, Stratmoor Hills Elementary, Giberson Elementary, Gorman Community Center, Panorama Middle School and Mountain Vista Community School.

A treat for sports fans was next when former University of Colorado football star Bobby Purify took the stage, and later signed autographs and posed for pictures. Purify, who also went on to play for the NFL before retiring due to injuries, graduated from Palmer High School and was a PAL participant himself. He is now testing to become a Colorado Springs Police Department officer. Purify offered this advice: "Pay attention to your parents, do your school work. If you stay dedicated and disciplined with the little things now, it will help you in painting the bigger picture for later."

The awards program also included a slide show highlighting the 2005-2006 season, to the tunes of hoots and hollers from participants as their picture was projected to the auditorium crowd. Chants and singing accompanied the presentation as well, especially when background music including "Who Let the Dog Out" was played.

Raffle drawings for area merchant gift certificates interspersed the proceedings, to collective "awwwws” as ticket holders came close to the winning numbers. Preceding the trophy distribution, there was a performance by the PAL cheerleaders, coached by Regina Jackson and Karen Eastman.

Awards then followed for this season's basketball teams, in which team members took the stage to claim their trophies, coaches expressed their appreciation, and special awards were given to each team for "best hustle," "best sportsmanship," and "most improved."

It was clear to see there are some bright and upcoming stars in the PAL program, and it was also clear there is a huge body of support for each and every young person who wants to participate and be successful.

The Mission of the Colorado Springs Police Athletic League is to enhance the partnership between the C.S.P.D. and community members by providing affordable, after-school and summer activities that nurture positive development, foster community responsibility and reduce participation in juvenile crime for youth who can most benefit.

Police officers and volunteers coach youth ages 6-17 in a variety of sports including basketball, baseball, cheerleading, football, volleyball, soccer and boxing. PAL activities are co-ed and open to any child interested in participating. Because PAL participants only pay $5.00 per activity, PAL gives any youth the opportunity to play sports, especially those who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.

The goal of reducing youth crime in these targeted areas helps coaches focus on teaching children not only the skills of the sport, but also life skills such as leadership, commitment, responsibility, teamwork, goal setting, social skills, and sportsmanship. All PAL coaches receive training through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) prior to their involvement with youth. Coaches gain valuable knowledge concerning teaching youth sports, working with parents, being an organized coach, and refreshing sport specific skills.

PAL participants come from a wide array of backgrounds, thus bringing rich diversity to the program. Youth attend elementary, middle, and high schools in El Paso County. PAL's first time juvenile offender recruitment program extends a PAL invitation to youth who have committed a misdemeanor offense. PAL youth recruited through this program make up about five percent of the total population. PAL also reaches out to youth who have been victims of crime. Recent data shows 25 percent of PAL kids have been youth victimized. Thus, PAL provides a safe-haven from juvenile victimization and teaches kids skills needed to handle many difficult situations. PAL, Youth Victims Services (YVS), and Detectives from Sex Crimes/Crimes Against Children Unit have partnered in order to provide presentations to PAL participants and parents concerning victimization.

Fostering Community Responsibility is also an important component of PAL. Kids learn that their community is more than just their neighborhood and that all members of a community help to improve the quality of life. Each program sponsors a community service project, such as a canned goods drive at the end-of-the-season banquet, so together families can share in the learning experience.

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