Free Youth Baseball/Softball Clinic with Legendary Line-Up of Former Major League Baseball Stars at Daniel J. Flynn Memorial Park
Over 550 local youth athletes spent a sunny Sunday honing their crafts on the ball field at Flynn Memorial Park. On Sunday, August 27th, Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and NYS Senator Mario Mattera teamed up again with Heros 4 Our Heroes for the second year in a row to present a free event for male and female youths. All of the proceeds raised by Heros 4 Our Heroes is being donated to renovate the Community Living Center courtyard at the Northport VA Medical Center. Event partners included support from MLB, NY Life, The Rotary Club of Smithtown Sunrise, Smithtown School District, Smithtown Recreation, Smithtown Parks Department, the Smithtown Department of Public Safety, the Smithtown Youth Bureau, Smithtown Softball, Kings Park Youth, Northport H.S. Varsity Baseball, Nesconset Fire Department, County Clerk Vincent Puleo, Catholic Health, St. Catherine of Siena & St. Charles Hospitals. Additional assistance from Senator Mattera’s office included staff spouses Lia Crowley and Cat Amicizia who volunteered throughout the day. Jazz Singer Camille Saturday performed the National Anthem and God Bless America.
“What a day for our community! This event has become a very special tradition to pay homage to our Veterans while giving local families an unforgettable experience. Heros 4 Our Heroes did an unbelievable job fundraising to renovate the Northport VA courtyard, so Veterans living in the nursing home can soon enjoy time with friends and family in a stunning outdoor setting worthy of their sacrifice and service… I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Senator Mattera, his staff, the incredible team at Parks, Buildings & Grounds, Smithtown Recreation, the Youth Bureau, event partners and all of our local schools, sports leagues and coaches who devoted their summers to delivering a truly memorable event for the community. It’s truly fitting that we come together every year to honor our Veterans and inspire our youth at the ballpark named after a legendary athlete who walked away from a professional ball career, and sacrificed his life in defense of our Nation.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
Former MLB stars Art Shamsky, Frank Catalanotto, Fred Cambria, Kevin Baez, Frank Tepedino, Don Demola, Sal Agostinelli and Charles Galliano coached kids (ages 6-18) alongside Bryan Goelz (Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox organization), Island Slow Pitch’s Keith Fasciana, Elwood Asst Varsity Coach Bill Reidel, and Smithtown West H.S. Coach Al Nucci, with assistance from the Smithtown H.S. West Varsity Players, Smithtown Softball’s Vinny Simeone, Kings Park Youth coaches John Fitzgerald and Donny Schulze, Northport H.S. Varsity coaches Rich Castellano and Bob Castellano, Northport H.S. Varsity baseball players, Smithtown Recreation Director Tom McCaffery, Smithtown Recreation Supervisor Brandon Modrov, and Smithtown Recreation Camp Assistants Vischnu Padmanaban and Aiden Kuschel.
“It was my absolute pleasure to host the Second Annual Field of Heroes Youth Clinic with Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim this past Sunday that benefited the renovation of the Community Living Center courtyard at the Northport VA Medical Center… This day connects kids to the richness of America's favorite sports - baseball and softball - and the great outdoors while also teaching future generations the importance of supporting our veterans. I’m proud to be part of this great community event with Supervisor Wehrheim while honoring the real heroes who reside at the Northport VA. I'm very thankful to the MLB retired players for their support, as well as Donato Panico and Gerard Leonard from Heros For Our Heroes for their endless dedication to help our veterans.” - New York State Senator Mario Mattera
The opening ceremony paid tribute to American heroes on the field named in honor of Daniel J. Flynn, a member of the 725th Military Police Battalion, C Company, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Guest speaker Carl Superina talked about his “Battlefields to Ballfields” program which awards scholarships for Veterans and active duty servicemen to become football officials. The ceremony closed with a surprise presentation for Corey Phelan’s family, who live locally. Phelan was a left-handed pitcher in the Phillies' Minor League system, who passed away at the age of 20, after a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His family began Corey’s Promise, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to financially helping families coping with Pediatric Cancer so that they may spend precious time with their child.
Children were assigned to each field based on age groups and choice of baseball or softball after the opening ceremony. Each participant received a personalized baseball/softball playing card, and baseball. Families and participants received a complimentary lunch, provided by Heros 4 Our Heroes.
About the Project:
Heros 4 Our Heroes has begun fundraising efforts to rebuild the Nursing Home’s outdoor courtyard located at building 92 on the Northport VA campus. Tentative plans, which have been created by Carmine Grasso, R.A. of Cataldo Grasso Architects, P.C. include a peaceful waterfall, picnic area, park benches, decorative lighting and a brick hero walkway, which will adorn the names of local Veterans. Every year, Heros 4 Our Heroes hosts Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner distribution efforts at the Northport VA. The courtyard project was born during a tour after last year’s Thanksgiving meal distribution. Heros 4 Our Heroes hopes to raise enough funds over the course of the next year to begin the process of renovating the courtyard.
About Heros 4 Our Heroes Foundation:
The day after 9/11, the Panicos wanted to do something to aid our rescue workers, so they loaded up a mobile catering truck full of food from their market in Smithtown and drove to Ground Zero. They cooked for ten straight days at the World Trade Center site and continued to provide free meals to first responders and frontline workers for the next 21 years. Every September 11th, Heros 4 Our Heroes prepares and gives away over 3,000 heroes to firefighters, policemen and veterans. During the holidays, Heros 4 Our Heroes distributes turkey dinners on Thanksgiving and ham or turkey dinners for Christmas at the VA Medical Center. Since September 11th, 2001, the Panicos have served as an inspiration to the people of Smithtown by serving thousands of complimentary meals to frontline workers at hospitals, nursing homes, veterans facilities and dozens of other entities, in honor of the thousands of heroes who serve us every day.
To learn more, visit: www.heros4ourheroes.org