John Jay Youth Football (Cross River, NY)is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of promoting and sponsoring youth football in the Katonah-Lewisboro school district. We offer programs for kids from ages 8 to 13 (3rd grade to 8th grade) in age based structured teams. Questions can be addressed to:
For John Jay Youth Football, volunteering is part of playbook
John Jay Youth Football players Liam O’Shea, Ian Gallagher, Garrett Grant, Max Miraglia and Thomas Gaza during their recent visit to Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.
Before the playbook is finalized for the 2015 season, John Jay Youth Football players are asked to run a different kind of play off the field — by volunteering their time with the children at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.
“Volunteering at Blythedale Children’s Hospital is a very important part of the youth football program,” said Nick Giardina, president of JJYF. “It helps show the boys how impactful the simple act of volunteering their time to those who are less fortunate can really be. We enjoy watching our boys interact with the kids as much as we love watching the faces of the children at Blythedale light up.”
Each Friday from Aug. 4 through Aug. 21, a group of eighth grade players meet at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in the recreation room to hand out John Jay Youth Football T-shirts and spirit gear and play games. The kids at Blythedale enjoy playing video games, air hockey, coloring, and especially monkey in the middle. At the end of the program, JJYF plans to donate needed games and crafts to the recreation department.
“Spending time with the kids at Blythedale was an amazing experience and we are so proud of our boys. They immediately engaged with the kids of Blythedale and brought fun and smiles; not sure who had more fun, our boys or the kids they were entertaining,” said Lisa Bart, an eighth grade parent.
It was evident to the boys of JJYF that the children of Blythedale were just like them, only not as fortunate.
“I never volunteered at a hospital before,” said Max Miraglia. “I didn’t know what to expect but I wasn’t nervous because I knew the kids at Blythedale wouldn’t be nervous. I spent most of my time playing with a 10-year-old girl who was in a wheelchair, and her sister. We even played monkey in the middle with a small ball. She wanted to do everything herself. If she dropped the ball, she didn’t want me to get it for her. She would have to roll her chair up to the ball, unbuckle, put her foot down, reach over and roll the ball up her leg. She was very persistent. We even went back to her room so I could meet her whole family.
“When we went in the room, she said, ‘Look everyone, here’s a football player’. It was so funny,” said Max. “Volunteering was really fun. I felt good that I did it but a little sad that I had to leave and they had to stay. It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever done. I would definitely do it again.”
“Year after year I continue to be impressed with our JJYF boys and how they handle an unfamiliar situation and work together as a team but on a different field with a different outcome,” said Giardina. “We are grateful to the Blythedale Children’s Hospital for allowing us to continue our yearly tradition before we kick off our season and as always thankful for the eighth grade coaching staff, the players and the parents for helping to make this happen.”
As JJYF prepares for the upcoming football season it seems that taking part in this volunteer program continues to be the perfect way for the eighth grade team to kick off their last football season with JJYF.