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Friday, June 26, 2015

Olympic Day in Newburgh

Olympic Day is finally here.  Actually, Olympic Day almost didn’t happen at all.  I have done so many events over the years but this is one I am particularly proud of, no matter how it turns out.  America Rows and Swims Newburgh will be hosting a free water confidence clinic, learn to swim, and learn to row at the Delano Hitch Aquatic Center, 401 Washington Street, Newburgh, today from 11 am - 2pm.  It’s a massive production to put on, with a great volunteer effort by both kids and adults.  As always, we don’t pay for advertising, so whoever shows up got there through word of mouth or social media.  Big turnout or not, I’m thrilled we got this off the ground.

As with all things, it started with an email from Coach Kennedy to all the coaches.  Which we all kind of ignored.  Then he said to me, “Mrs. Lo, will you please host some kind of Olympic Day, I have always wanted to do this.”  So I applied to the US Olympic Committee and got permission to hold an Olympic Day.  The purpose of Olympic Day is to have kids try an olympic sport they haven’t tried before.  We have two Olympic sports, swimming and rowing.
I wanted to do a free water confidence clinic and learn to row clinic at Delano Hitch aquatic center.  We have done free events there before.  This year, though, I got an email that the City of Newburgh wanted the Newburgh Rowing Club to pay $600.00 in various fees (lifeguards, estimated lost revenue, pool chemicals, etc.) to hold a free Learn to Swim clinic.  Seriously?  The City of Newburgh has money for $73,400.00 in computer software for the Traffic Violations Bureau; $24,000.00 to lease a parking lot for the City Courthouse; $60,000.00 for Title searches by the Corporate Counsel office; $6,000.00 for boat launches at Brown’s Pond and some other really mind-boggling expenses.  They can’t trim $600.00 out of the hundreds of thousands that comes under the category of “other” to have a fun, free day for Newburgh’s kids?  The rowing club is made up of volunteers -- we donate our time on a Saturday (yes, we have families, lives, homes and gardens to tend to) --  to have a fun day at the City Pool and maybe help prevent some drownings; and we have to pay City of Newburgh $600.00?
I just didn’t have the energy, I wrote an email saying forget it, I will do it at the Union Avenue pool where we have regular swim club sessions.  Then something crazy happened.  People started coming together.  I got an email from Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate Gay Lee, “Hold on a minute, not so fast,” she said.  “Let me see what we can do.  I will put up $200.00 of my personal money.”  Councilwoman Genie Abrams worked something out with the rec department where we would provide our own lifeguards thereby bringing the overall fee down.  Councilwoman Lee worked to raise another $250.00 in donations, NYS Assmeblyman Skartados donated, the Sofokles Family donated, the LoBiondo Family donated, and the next thing you know we had more than enough.  
I called Rita’s Ices and asked them to help out with reduced prices Italian Ices and they said, Sure, we’re in.  And we are still doing a free event at the Union Avenue pool on Sunday.
And just like that, Olympic Day is on!  I love doing events like this for the community.  I hope you will all stop by and see me so we can enjoy Olympic Day together.  Rain or shine!  
Have a great day everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondo.org