Clearfield Second Mile to hold annual sports banquet on Sunday
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
HYDE - The Clearfield County Chapter of The Second Mile will hold its annual sports banquet Sunday. This year's event will have a distinctly local flair, as a trio of former area standout high school athletes will be some of the featured guests in attendance at Clearfield Area High School.
Clearfield graduate Andrew Janocko, Moshannon Valley grad Ryan Gmerek and Philipsburg-Osceola alum J.D. Mason will be joined by several of their Pitt and Penn State teammates.
Gmerek and Mason, along with Daryll Clark, Sean Lee and Stefen Wisniewski, are scheduled to represent the Nittany Lions, while Janocko, Henry Hynoski, Myles Caragein, Dan Cafaro and assistant head coach Greg Gattuso are slated to appear for Pitt.
There will be a meet-and-greet session with the players beginning at 4:30 p.m. Fans will have the opportunity to talk with the athletes and get autographs and pictures.
Dinner will follow at 5:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria before those in attendance move to the auditorium where The Second Mile founder Jerry Sandusky will speak, and the players will share stories about their journeys to becoming collegiate student-athletes.
During the course of the evening, there will be many Penn State and Pitt memorabilia items available in an auction format, as well as some others given away in raffles.
Some of the items will be autographed.
"This is a great night for a football fan," Clearfield Chapter Chairman Tim Janocko said. "You can make new friends and meet some great student-athletes from Penn State and Pitt.
"Some of the guys that attend this banquet end up in the NFL. Guys like A.Q. Shipley, who has many fond memories of volunteering for The Second Mile."
The annual sports banquet is one of the Clearfield Chapter's most important fundraisers each year.
Those funds will be used in a variety of ways including the Tips Program, Super Thursdays and the annual summer day camp.
Super Thursdays is the newest program sponsored by the Clearfield Chapter, starting just last year.
"On Thursday evenings, we take some kids up to the high school, actually the field house, to offer a program," Clearfield Chapter Vice Chairman Jamie Quick said.
"The three components of the program are physical, social and educational. Each component is 25 minutes in length. We match high school students up with the kids ... we used fifth- and sixth-graders last year ... and they worked together as a team throughout the night."
Many members of the school district and the community volunteer their time to make these Super Thursdays a success.
"People from the school district came to volunteer time to do physical fitness activities," Quick said. "We had volunteers, from the community, who came and basically mingled with the kids. It was almost like a social. We had an attorney, a business owner, the current mayor and the former mayor, and just a variety of people from the community that took part.
"We also did some academic things like mathematics, as well as going over the effects of tobacco and drugs and alcohol. So we had a wide range of educational activities."
Super Thursdays joins the lineup of events already in place at the Clearfield Chapter.
The summer day camp will be in its 14th year and is a lot like Super Thursdays as far as how the youngsters benefit from their time with volunteers.
"We bring kids in from throughout Clearfield County and put them on teams led by high school students who serve as a mentor or role model," Quick said.
"They take part in a variety of activities during the camp that will assist them in becoming successful."
There is also a local spin on the Nittany Lions Tips program, which are sets of sports trading cards featuring Penn State athletes who offer a positive message or word of encouragement about issues of normal development.
These cards are provided to counselors and caseworkers to use in their work with elementary and middle school students.
Each year, The Second Mile produces two editions of 25 cards each - the Fall Edition, featuring Penn State football team members, and the Winter Sports Edition, featuring wrestling, men's and women's basketball, and men's and women's gymnastics.
The Clearfield Chapter uses high school students to provide area youth with some tips for the future.
"We visit elementary schools," Quick said. "We take high school kids to the schools, and they share with the youngsters the kind of activities they are involved with both in and out of school and what helped make them successful as they were growing up."
Tickets for the event are $15 per person and are available at Jim's Sports Center or by calling Tim Janocko at 765-1058.
"The thing that sticks out for me is how this has transitioned from strictly a fundraising event to more of a program for families ... as well as a fundraising event," Quick said.
"Twenty years ago when Tim (Janocko) and Colleen Campman were basically getting this off the ground, there was no local programming. The banquet was strictly to raise funds for The Second Mile at a state level.
"Now the banquet is an opportunity for families and young people in our community to come and get to see these Penn State and Pitt football players, and listen to the kind of things that helped them become successful in their lives."