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Prints for Progress draws biggest crowd yet

Fri, Feb 24th 2017 04:20 pm

Successful Pints gathering at Hard Rock Cafe

By Terry Duffy

Editor-in-Chief

Pints for Progress No. 20 staged what was perhaps its best-attended event yet, Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Hard Rock Cafe, Niagara Falls USA. Presented by #LiveNF along with Niagara Falls Community Development, Pints for Progress No. 20 drew a crowd of close to 130 at the Hard Rock.

Pints for Progress, now four years in existence, continues to draw the interest of Niagara residents from far and wide. That appeared to be the case again last Thursday, as attendees, including a large contingent from the Public Relations Student Society of America at Niagara University, filled the Hard Rock on a cold, dark mid-winter night where Niagara Falls otherwise resembled a ghost town.

"Over 125 people at our 20th P4P. I could talk about NF Pints for Progress for days, but the most important statement is: Thank you. ... Thank you to everyone who attended. It was our largest indoor event to date," said organizer Seth Piccirillo, director of Niagara Falls Community Development, who teams with Phil Moore of #LiveNF to present Pints.

This get-together takes place at various locations in the Cataract City and features an evening of socializing and information sharing. First-timers pay a $5 entry fee; repeat visitors pay $10. The program includes a beverage, food, entertainment and presentations. At the close of the session, attendees are invited to cast their vote for the winner, who receives the evening's proceeds.

Thursday's session included speaker Willie A. Price of Niagara Track and Field Club, and Brook D'Angelo representing the Dance of the Fireflies annual children's celebration.

Price, of Niagara Track & Field, was declared the winner and took home $600 in proceeds. He went on to discuss the merits for the fledging program geared toward Niagara County youth and adults.

"The program is being created to give the residents of Niagara County the opportunity to take part in a healthy, low cost activity, as well as give many of the area youth a summer activity," stated Price.

He said the program, which carries sponsorship by the Niagara PAL, is open to both youth and adult runners, basically from age 10 on up.

"I moved here to Niagara Falls about four years ago, said Price as he explained his involvement. "I travel a lot, but I have a lot of free time. One day, I went to the high school, and I saw kids training with the track team. I came to the coach and said I'd like to volunteer," Price said.

"I've been volunteering for two years now. I coach everyday at the high school, working with the kids."

Price said that what stuck out in his mind was a lack of any worthwhile programs specifically geared for Falls youth in the summer time.

"What I found in the summer time, these kids have nothing to do. They sit around, not much going on. At that point I spoke with (Niagara Falls High School) Coach John Robbins last year and said to him, 'I'd like to start a track club.'

"It was kind of late last year, so this year I started early. I spoke with the (PAL) panel, met with those guys. I said 'This is an idea I have, I'll do whatever I can, I'll do as much as I can, I am looking for volunteers, but I'll do as much as I can.'

"So they came on board with me. And we are trying to start this Niagara Falls Track and Field Club."

Price said that from there he went to work. He soon drew the interest of the U.S. Association of Track & Field.

"They contacted me. They said, 'We were looking for someone to do something up in (the) Western New York area, because everything is in Rochester and Syracuse.' "

Price said USATF officials expressed interest in working with the new Niagara Track and Field group towards staging development meets and out of town championship events. "They contacted me, they talked about joining us up here and doing some development meets and they would want to do a championship meet. They have two championship meets in Rochester."

Price said that his program, once fully underway, has the prospect to bring a lot of good, both to area youth and to the Falls.

"It's going to bring not only young people out to do something over the summer (but) give them some activities, keep them healthy. ... It is also going to bring business to the community, because I am participating."

Price said he has also caught the interest of runners in Toronto, telling visitors how he spoke highly of Niagara Track and Field while at a meet at York University.

"Those guys are already looking forward to coming (here). I've talked about it (the Niagara Falls project) everyday.

"So we're going to have people come from Canada, we're going to have people come from Syracuse, Rochester, Cleveland. All the people who used to come to the Belt and Bond meets 10 years ago, they're already looking forward to coming to Niagara Falls," said Price.

Price said he has begun networking with area businesses to promote his program further.

"I have reached out to businesses also. I've talked to John Accardo ... he wants to help sponsor. So we're looking at youth leading businesses, and getting them to sponsor their jerseys, show their support."

Price added he envisions this program building momentum.

"We're going to put together a banner with businesses on it. We're also planning on going around to businesses and (maybe) get an ad journal with coupons in it. So when people come up to a track meet, they can leave and go to the local businesses, and support our local businesses here in Niagara Falls.

"(They'll be) coming down Pine Avenue, coming to Niagara Falls Boulevard. It'll be an opportunity to see it (and) patronize local businesses."

Price told attendees he would be putting the prize money to good use. Much of it would involve logistics matters for the new organization, such as purchasing equipment, including jerseys for the players. Niagara Track and Field would be using the track and field complex at Niagara Falls High School and the program would be divided into segments for both youth and adults. Volunteer coaches are now being sought.

"It's going to put a spotlight on Niagara Falls for track and field," Price said.

For more information on the Niagara Track and Field Club, contact Price via email at [email protected] or by phone at 716-316-7776.

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