Number of Participants: 34
Hours Donated: 5
Value of Time Served: $1,437
Event Type: Children & Youth
School: Wantagh Senior High School
Date: December 21, 2021
The Wantagh Varsity Football team recently won the Nassau County Football Coaches Association Community Service Award at their football dinner for something they always do and totally deserve the recognition even though for them, it is something that is “normal” and somewhat of a tradition. Every Halloween weekend for the last eleven years (except last year because of covid) my entire varsity football team and staff joins forces with the John Theissen Children’s Foundation to help raise money for pediatric cancer patients across Long Island at their Freaky 5K. They help set up and breakdown the course, rope off all the streets, help at the water and candy stations and are also found throughout the course as the biggest and loudest cheering section. I think this year was extra special because it was back and another piece of normalcy for both The Foundation and the team.
It is very humbling when others recognize one of your teams for their hard work and dedication off the field especially because it is something they have always just done without the credit. We always say our student-athletes they represent our community and I can’t think of a more selfless way to do it.
The Wantagh High School football team continues to shine on and off the field. Not only did the team advance to the conference semifinals in the fall 2021 season, the players were also recognized for their community service work with two awards.
The Warriors were presented with the Community Service Award at the Nassau County football dinner following the season. Coach Keith Sachs said that the award, given by the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association, was in recognition of the team’s longstanding partnership with John Theissen Children’s Foundation.
Every October, members of the varsity football team volunteer their time at the foundation’s annual Freaky 5K race in the community. This year, players got to work several hours before the race began by marking the course and setting up refreshment stations along the route. During the 5K, they handed out water and candy to the runners and gathered at the end to cheer participants as they crossed the finish line.
Drew Palladino noted that the Wantagh community is extremely supportive of the football team throughout the season, filling the stands and cheering on the Warriors. The players volunteer their time at the Freaky 5K to express their gratitude.
“It’s the least we can do to give back after all they’ve done for us,” Nick Aldino said. “I like the feeling of helping people out.”
Luke Janosko said the event has such as positive vibe and it was great to see so many people from the community come out for a good cause. Mark Maniet added that children like seeing the football players at the race, so their presence sets a good example about the value of community service.
After the Freaky 5K comes Theissen’s annual holiday toy drive. Sean Carlo said that several players also contributed by bringing their donations to the foundation’s Wantagh Avenue headquarters.
Most recently, the football team was named the recipient of the Community Service Award from the Nassau County Chapter of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association. The team will be recognized at a luncheon on June 10 at Westbury Manor.
Photo caption: Wantagh High School varsity football players, from left, Mark Maniet, Nick Aldino, Sean Carlo, Drew Palladino and Luke Janosko displayed a trophy from the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association, one of two awards the team recently received for its community service efforts.
Photo courtesy of the Wantagh School District