Annette Gray-Thom, the president of the Nassau County Police Activity League’s Valley Stream unit, was only expecting about 50 children to show up to Memorial Junior High School for its two-hour basketball clinic with former New York Knicks power forward Larry Johnson on Oct. 12, and was surprised when more than 100 children from Valley Stream, Franklin Square and came out.
“It got out that we were having a clinic,” she joked.
When the PALs of Franklin Square and Elmont found out that the Valley Stream chapter won the Papa John’s Pizza Party, which included a pizza party and two-hour basketball clinic with the Knicks player, Gray-Thom did not want to turn anyone away.
“We just hope that the kids enjoyed our program,” she said.
Gray-Thom share the PAL’s mission statement to apply for the event, which states that it operates a youth sports group for children regardless of age, race and income. The organization believes that this will help prevent juvenile delinquency and help children form an amicable relationship with their local police officers. Several weeks after the application was filed, Gray-Thom said she received a call from Papa John’s Corporation saying that the Valley Stream chapter won the pizza party and two-hour basketball clinic.
The more than 100 children who participated in the basketball clinic received T-shirts and learned basketball tricks. Fourteen children under the age of 13 were also offered to play at the Knick’s halftime show on Oct. 13 in their game against the Washington Wizards. The night ended with a series of pictures with Larry Johnson.
“It was a fantastic experience for the kids,” said Gray-Thom.