Lori Mahan

Lori Mahan

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga is the summer place to be, and this year the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) will host five of their retired Thoroughbred racehorses at a local farm to serve as ambassadors representing the organization’s herd of 750 horses and former racehorses across the country.  These Thoroughbred ambassadors come to Saratoga from the TRF’s Second Chances program at the Wallkill Correctional Facility in New York.  They will be spending the summer in Saratoga Springs helping to introduce the TRF herd to the racing community and racing fans and to raise awareness of the importance of thoroughbred aftercare to everyone visiting the Spa this summer. Upon their June 26 arrival at the Summer Farm, they were warmly welcomed by the TRF team and enjoyed carrots and apples.  They quickly settled into their pastures and embraced their new home as “the summer place to be.”

The five horses at the TRF Summer Farm @Saratoga are representatives of the Thoroughbred horses to whom the TRF provides lifelong sanctuary through the network of 19 farms, located in 12 states and including eight Second Chances programs at Correctional Facilities.  They look forward to meeting new friends and longtime supporters of the TRF throughout the summer meet. Who are the horses?
Cogs My Man is an 18-yearold, Kentucky bred gelding with five career starts.  His sire, Louis Quatorze, won the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga in 1996.    Son of a Gun is a sweet, smart 12-year-old bay gelding, who would definitely like a human to call his own. Blown Save is a 10-year-old bay gelding, who raced 12 times. His sire is the great Smart Strike. He is the big man of the herd standing at 17 hands.   Dusk to Dawn is an impressive looking 7-year-old, bay, NY bred gelding.  His sire is Malibu Moon. “Dusky” had eight career starts. He is a big horse and quite the character.  He last raced in 2015 and still remembers the call to the post song when played!   Bold Mon is a 15-year-old grey gelding who had a successful racing career with lifetime earnings of $170,000.  His last race was at Saratoga and he is happy to be back for a visit.  The farm will be open Tuesdays during racing season from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment with the TRF.  The retired racehorses will be staying at the Heading for Home facility located just east of Saratoga Springs.  Heading for Home is a racehorse rescue and retraining facility for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses.

This partnership formed as a result of a collaboration with Racehorse Aftercare Charitable Endeavors of Saratoga (R.A.C.E.).  This group of racehorse aftercare organizations was launched in 2015 and promotes education and awareness on racehorse aftercare in the Saratoga area. 

“We are thrilled to introduce our retired horses to the Saratoga community and to have the opportunity to elevate the conversation regarding racehorse aftercare,” said TRF Director of Development and Communications Jennifer Stevens.

“TRF’s national headquarters is based in Saratoga Springs, yet we rarely have a chance to have our supporters meet our herd in person. Each horse has a unique personality and a story to tell. We hope the community will visit the farm to meet them and come to appreciate and love them as we do,” Stevens continued.

For more information, or to schedule a visit to the TRF Summer Farm, please call the TRF at 518-2260028.  Because the farm is a private venue, drop-in visits are prohibited without prior permission.

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga’s sleek thoroughbreds won’t be the only competitors racing on Saturday, July 21. At 8 a.m., more than 1,100 runners will congregate at the famous Fasig Tipton building (415 East Avenue, Saratoga Springs), the premier auction house for thoroughbred horses in North America, for the 22nd Jeff Clark Memorial Silks & Satins 5K.  Proceeds from the run, a flat and fast certified 5K course which takes participants through some of Saratoga’s most beautiful neighborhoods, will benefit Special Olympics New York. “We are so grateful for the tremendous community support this race continues to receive,” said Jennifer Frame, director of development, Special Olympics New York.

“Monies raised will enable us to enhance our sports programming, training and competition for our athletes,” Frame continued.

“One of the things we’ll be doing this year is incorporating our local athletes who live in Saratoga in various aspects of the race from manning water stops to presenting the awards,” she added.

“In this way, people can really see the impact they have in supporting Special Olympics New York athletes,” she continued.

Registration for the chip-timed event is open at silksandsatins5k.com. The fee is $25 and the price increases to $30 after July 15. Day-of-race registration is available. Race bibs and shirts can be picked up race morning starting at 6 a.m.  The first 1,000 registrants to sign up will receive a commemorative tech shirt, a free day pass into Saratoga Race Course, a free pass to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, as well as a shower pass to the YMCA.  The event features a male/female and co-ed team competition. The awards ceremony will start at 9 a.m. All participants are asked to bring a gently used t-shirt for the event’s collection box which supports backstretch workers at Saratoga Race Course. The Silks and Satins 5K is seeking volunteers for an array of roles, including course marshal, packet pickup, awards, water stop, start/finish line, refreshments, and event setup/tear down. For more information, please visit silksandsatins5k.com.

Event parking is available in the Oklahoma lot across from Fasig Tipton at the intersection of Madison and East Ave., as well as on side streets. Special Olympics New York provides year-round sports training and competition in 23 Olympic-style sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the athletes, their families or caregivers. There are more than 66,000 athletes and unified partners that train and compete with Special Olympics New York, the largest Special Olympics program in North America.  For more information, please visit specialolympics-ny.org.

Thursday, 12 July 2018 17:12

Local All-Star Moments

Photos provided.

(Opening Photo: TEAM WINK wins the Over 25 League.)

SRYMCA / Saratoga Honda Summer Youth League
Saratoga Financial Services 42 - PJ’s BAR-B-QSA  24
In the first game of the season, Saratoga Financial Services got scoring from everyone playing. Led by Rodell Evans lll with 18 points, while teammate Toby Diulio added another 10 points, Josue Matinez and Noah Diulio got four points apiece in the 42 to 24 victory. PJ’s were led by Sam Chaucer and Riley Waterhouse with six points each and Jacob Bader, Yudley Tineo, Jacob Hernandez contributed four points apiece.

Cudney’s Launderers  43 – Village Photo  25
Cudney’s used Nick Scalo’s game high 15 points, along with Channing Adriance 14 points, and Antone Robbens 11 points to get a 43 to 25 victory. Village Photo’s Ben Van Valkenburg had 13 points and Kemauri Johnson dropped in another eight points in the loss.

Berkshire Hathaway Blake Realtors  42 – Saratoga PBA  31
The realtors got off to a big first half and led PBA by 16 points at halftime while PBA picked it up in the second half they came up just a little short losing 42 to 31. Logan Bevan and Niko VamValis each scored 12 points along with teammates Tom Villano and Stephen Bebee dropped in seven points apiece in the victory. PBA spread the points around led by Emelyn Tineo with 8 points while Alexander Savage’s
6 points, Trey Stanislowsky and Connor Johnson 5 points each.

Synergy Promotions  33 – Saratoga Springs Firefighters  22
In what turned out to be a defensive battle, Synergy kept the firefighters at bay most of the night and held on for a 33 to 22 victory. Pat Deschaine was high scorer for the winners with 13 points, Elijah Woods and Gordon Murray chipped in eight and six points respectively. Charlie Didonato led all scorers with a game high 15 points in the loss. 


Saratoga Springs Little League
The 12s won the District Championship series with a 9 to 5 victory over Rotterdam-Carman! They went into the bottom of the 6th down 5 to 3 and walked it off in dramatic fashion with an Owen Redick grand slam!
The 10s won the District Championship series with a 10 to 4 victory over RotterdamCarman! Colin Mack pitched a complete game for Saratoga with 5 Ks along the way. Colin was supported all night by a strong defense which was led by Cooper Villiere in Center Field. At the plate Colin Mack led the way with 4 hits and Cooper Villiere, Nate More, Jackson Covell and Noah Sanita contributed 2 hits each. This gives SSLL all 3 District 11/12 Championships (10U, 11U and 12U) for the first time in the league’s long history. Congratulations to the entire SSLL community for fostering such a great program.  Congratulations to the players and coaches for getting the job done on the field.  All 3 teams move on to play in 3 game series with Saratoga Springs Little League District 10/37 champions for the Section 2 North crown and a spot in the 8 team State tournament.
10s are playing New Hartford from District 10, 11s are playing Plattsburgh from District 37 and 12s opponent is to be determined on Thursday when Plattsburgh plays against Marcy-Deerfield.  The 12s will be in action at home this Saturday, July 14 while the 10s and 11s will be in action at home on Sunday, July 15 (check back to the site for game times, some are currently TBD). The 8s were also in action Monday night and beat Schuylerville 9 to 3 to take 3rd place in the Summer Sizzler blue division. They played their best defensive game of the summer holding a good hitting team to only 3 runs led by Ceko Cupp making plays at the hot corner and Ethan booth throwing a runner out at 2B going for a double. The bats woke up in the 4th with an inside the park HR by Ben Isenovski and again in the 5th with back-to-back doubles by Jaxon Brahler, Liam Creager, and Derek Ogniewski! Next up for them is the Pepsi Tournament in Glens Falls.

Saratoga Strike Zone
Two nights of bowling calls for big news! Thursday proved to be a good make up night as Claude Barrera bowled his first career 300 and Walter Thorne Jr fired games of 279,267 and 256 for an 802 series! Bowling on a Thursday didn’t throw off anyone’s groove but Monday proved to be different. Monday was “lights out” as the Bears took down the undefeated Bills. A power outage helped a few teams regroup and take the win in a few matches throughout the night. I believe we should all watch the AFC west division, they are the tightest division in the league right now and that showdown could get
interesting. Other great scores from both nights include: THURSDAY Claude Barrera 300 Clinton Juracka 299 Rob Eggelston 275 Rick Bogholtz 248,226,257 =731 Ross Boone 225,298,202 = 725 Mike Richardson 290,238,189 = 717 Christian Chiarito 248,246,215 =709 Andrew Marotta 258,231,212 = 701 Kyle Phillips 236,195,268 = 699 Chaz Senecal 251,204,243 = 698 MONDAY Joe Gatzendorfer 224,266,254 = 744 Ken Companion, Jr. 239,267,195= 701 Vinnie Nichols 207,247,241 = 695 Bill Wigand 216,247,230 = 693 Contribution by Chaz Senecal. Saratoga Strike Zone
Week of July 13 – July 19, 2018  

Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball
8u All Stars
The boys earned a bid to the State Tournament by going 3 - 2, on the strength of a stout defense that allowed the fewest runs of any team in the District Tournament.  Their State campaign begins on Friday in Queensbury.
9u All Stars
The boys on the 9u team won their second consecutive District Championship.  Shut down pitching and live bats took the boys to a 5 - 0 record in the District Tournament.  Their State Tournament begins in North Colonie on Thursday.

Thursday, 05 July 2018 18:23

Polo Anyone?

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The season begins July 6 and runs every Friday and Sunday through September 2, and this 120th-anniversary season promises to be even more fun. When Saratoga Polo stepped into the limelight 1898, Thomas Edison’s latest technology, the kinetoscope, was all the rage. Mega celebrities Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell wandered Broadway in Saratoga Springs, and New York City expanded when the five boroughs banded together to create the city that never sleeps. At the same time, tourists flocked upstate to summer in a Saratoga Springs that welcomed polo to the already famous racecourse scene. Although times have changed, Saratoga Polo Association will be returning with world-class polo on Fridays and Sundays this summer. More importantly, this year’s parties will be even bigger at Whitney Field with the 120th Anniversary Season. Even more than a century later, the excitement is still present at Saratoga, and the Saratoga Polo Association is pulling out all the stops - it’s going to be a real dog and pony show. On July 15, AIM Services Inc. presents the Dog and Pony Show Cup. 

The Dog Show will start promptly at 4:45 p.m., followed by the Polo match at 5:30 p.m. Dog friendly vendors will be set up throughout the event. There is also an additional pre-event photo contest for Saratoga’s Top Dog! The Dog Show is open to all dogs, big and small, categories include: • Dog That Looks Most    Like its Owner • Dog That Looks Least    Like its Owner • Best Trick • Happiest Dog • Best of Show • Prizes will be awarded    to the winners! Even more importantly, AIM Services, Inc raises much needed funds for their programs that support the “power of potential” in people of diverse abilities. The Adelphi Hotel will also be partnering with Saratoga Polo, and great cross-promotions at Whitney Field and at the hotel are planned with Veuve Clicquot and more! In celebration of the 120th anniversary, renowned Saratoga Springs artist Frankie Flores is creating a signature painting that will be showcased on the front cover of Equicurean Magazine, in posters, on apparel, and even as one-of-a-kind artist paintings.  Whitney Field is proud to welcome their new Food and Beverage Partner, Brad Lewis of B-Rad’s Catering, who will help them celebrate our 120th featuring new food, a new chef, new menu specials, and signature cocktails. Food lovers beware... you’re in for a tasty surprise! Plus, it wouldn’t be Saratoga Polo if you didn’t try your hand at a Veuve Clicquot sabrage at every match during the season. The celebration will hit its peak at the 120th party gala on Whitney Cup Sunday, August 5, with owners and special guests from Saratoga Polo’s last 40 years. The season kicks off with the Celebrate Saratoga Tournament and culminates with the Polo Hall of Fame Tournament, featuring some of the most exciting polo to be seen along the way. Tickets, tables, and tailgating spaces are going quickly! Here are some more highlights and the schedule: IN THE STANDS: • Young talent sing the National Anthem • Adirondack Thunder Hockey Celebration Opening Day • Upset, The Dark Horse Mascot from Impressions of Saratoga visits • The Times Union Presents The Mid-Summer Celebration Tournament • OrthoNY will be hosting a Match Cup this Season This year, The Whitney Cup trophy and the Veuve Clicquot Cup will be brought to the field by Independent Helicopter, and lots more every Friday and Sunday, July 6 through September 2. 

Gates open at 4 p.m. and the matches begin at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at saratogapolo.com/tickets. JULY 6 - SEPTEMBER 2, 2018 July 6: Celebrate Saratoga Tournament July 8: Celebrate Saratoga Tournament July 13: SPA Anniversary Tournament July 15: SPA Anniversary Tournament The AIM Services, Inc.  Dog and Pony Show Cup July 20: Veuve Clicquot Challenge Tournament July 22: Veuve Clicquot Challenge Tournament
July 27: The Times Union presents The Mid-Summer Celebration Tournament July 29: The Times Union presents The Mid-Summer Celebration Tournament August 3: The Whitney Cup Tournament August 5: The Whitney Cup Tournament  August 10: The Barrantes Cup Tournament OrthoNY Cup August 12: The Barrantes Cup Tournament
August 12: Madison Wealth Managers Cup August 17: The Ylvisaker Cup Tournament August 19: The Ylvisaker Cup Tournament August 24: The Saratoga Special Tournament August 26: The Saratoga Special Tournament Boats by George Cup August 31: The Polo Hall of Fame Tournament September 2: The Polo Hall of Fame Tournament Week

Thursday, 05 July 2018 18:18

Storybook Academy

Photos provided.

BALLSTON SPA — Storybook Academy Pre-School, originally opened in 1985 by Kim and Ray Diaz, has been operating under Melanie Edwards’ stellar care since 1997, after teaching with the original owners from 1994 to 1997.

“We’ve really been around preparing children for kindergarten for over 30 years,” Edwards said.

For a 15-week prekindergarten experience, it only costs $60 per week, which breaks down to $4 an hour. The academy accepts up to 20 students, ages three and four, and it is on a firstcome, first-serve basis, with openended enrollment.

“I always want to keep it under a 1:10 teacher student ratio,” Edwards explained.

Storybook Academy’s curriculum is based on kindergarten preparation.

“We believe that to make the transition into kindergarten less stressful for a child, because it can be so shocking and overwhelming, we prepare them for everything that they’re going to see on the kindergarten screening or when they’re enrolled in kindergarten. We start off with simple concepts of the curriculum: the colors, shapes and sizes. Then we get into numbers, letters, and phonics. We want the learning to be fun and exciting for the children, so we don’t make it overly complicated,” Edwards said.

“They are just kids, so they also have a lot of free time playing with toys that are geared toward their fine motor skills, imagination, role playing, and they’ve got a lot of time on the playground. We go on fun field trips where parents can sign up and come along with us. In addition to the regular curriculum, we introduce the children to different things like fire safety, nutrition, dental awareness, and basic manners. It’s not just about the academic curriculum but also learning about everything else that’s so important to life,” Edwards emphasized.

Storybook Academy operates from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday throughout the school year.

“That routine gets them ready for the kindergarten schedule. Children need to know that routine as well, because if they’re enrolled somewhere for only two or three days a week, they’re always asking ‘is there school today? Is there school tomorrow?’ They don’t really have a concept of time at that age,” Edwards said.

“It’s just very rewarding to be with these sweet little beings every day. They haven’t formed all of their concepts and strong opinions, so we get them innocent and pure and we can shape their little minds. We’ve even had a student come back to do a college internship because she was studying early childhood education. I also have a student, who I had years ago, who is now serving in the military and he messaged me a couple months back saying to save a spot for three years because he has a son that he wants to put into Storybook Academy. It’s rewarding every day
but it’s really rewarding when you have all of these people that have such good things to say about you, and that we’ve made such a mark on them as a child that they want to come back and visit and have good memories,” Edwards said.

Storybook Academy also offers summer camps for ages three to seven with different themes each week. Edwards was assisted for 20 years by her sister, Jamie Cotter-Sacala, and has been assisted by Lisa Rhodes for the last year. If you are interested in learning more or registering your child for Storybook Academy, call 518-587-0707 or email Melanie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday, 28 June 2018 16:11

Randi Cowper: A Galway Ninja Warrior

Photos provided.

GALWAY — Imagine you’re settled in with your husband and two sons watching the tv show American Ninja Warrior and you suddenly have this thought, “I could do that, too.”

That’s how Galway native Randi Cowper became involved with ninja training. She adventured three hours away to the closest ninja gym, which was in Vermont, and gave it a try. She was immediately hooked. After that, her husband of seven years, Dustin, built her a ninja course in their basement and backyard. She ran track and cross country through high school and college, she also did cross-fit for a few years, but nothing like this before.

“Two years ago, I kind of just decided that I wanted to get on the show, American Ninja Warrior, so my husband built a course in our backyard and I was called to compete in Cleveland last year, where I did really terribly,” Cowper laughed.

“I fell on the second step right in the very beginning of the course so it kind of just gave me more desire to train harder and do better. We then converted our basement into a ninja gym. We have our backyard and our basement, and I was able to get back on Ninja Warrior this year,” she said.

Cowper’s obstacle attempt was not shown on the show this year either, but she did go further than the year before.

“I did a lot better, I almost got to the third obstacle this year, so I just missed the landing platform and fell in the water,” she explained.

This has turned in a passion for Cowper over the last two years, out of nowhere, and now with the Saratoga Ninja Lab opening, she will be a trainer there, finally able to immerse herself in the ninja world, only 20 minutes from home. The Saratoga Ninja Lab is for all-ages and will have summer camps for kids starting in August.

“It’s just so much fun and such a great workout and you don’t even realize you’re working out because you’re having such a good time and then you want to keep doing it,” Cowper said.

In order to get called to compete for a spot on the show, participants must fill out an application and send a threeminute video that makes them stick out from the other 70,000 applicants.

“There is something like 70,000 people who apply to be on the show so to be a normal mom from a small town in upstate New York, you don’t really think you’re going to be one of those people. So, I think the first time was just surreal and I really didn’t have the confidence in myself or my abilities so when I got up there, I was just totally a deer in the headlights, with all the cameras and everything. So, when I got the call this year, obviously I’ve been training for another year, so I feel stronger and better than I ever have, but it’s more of like a self-confidence I never had before from this year over last year,” she said, explaining the difference in performances.3

Cowper does plan to compete again next year.

“The show is great, but the training is not about getting on the show, for me anyway. It’s just about seeing how strong you can become physically and you’re happier and you have a purpose and you feel good about yourself. So, the show is great, that’s kind of like the cherry on top but that’s not why I’ve been training,” she stated.

Cowper’s oldest son, Seth, is “more into video games and he wouldn’t tell me if he thought it was cool just because he’s at that age,” Cowper said.

Her youngest, Aiden, “definitely thinks it’s awesome, he’ll be at the gym,” she said.

For now, she has her day job at the Alpin Haus RV Saratoga location as the business manager and will start training at the Saratoga Ninja Lab once they open.

“When I started doing this, I was just a regular mom who had insecurities and low selfconfidence. The training for the show has totally changed my life, physically, obviously I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, but emotionally, my confidence, it’s awesome and I want to share the passion and love that I have for it with anyone that I can,” she said.

Thursday, 28 June 2018 16:02

Firecracker4 on July 4

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — If you’re looking to begin your July 4th festivities in an invigorating fashion, register now for the 12th annual Firecracker4, a fourmile road race through Saratoga Springs that celebrates and honors America’s history. The first 3,700 registrants to sign up at firecracker4.com will receive a commemorative men’s and women’s cut tech shirt and swag bag.  Other perks include chip timing with live results, text/email alerts, finisher certificates, $7,000 in cash prizes, 186 award categories and prizes, a large vendor village located at the start/finish area, and 20 bands along the course to keep runners moving. Those looking to support local veterans during registration can also purchase a Firecracker4 Twill running hat. Fifty one percent of the profit will be donated to the Saratoga County Veterans Service Agency.  The Firecracker4 entry free from June 16 to July 1 is $35, and then $40 through race day. For more registration information, please visit the website.

“This event continues to grow steadily each year because we offer runners a friendly course that starts and finishes at the Saratoga Springs City Center and we are supporting some great local charity groups,” said Race Director Patrick Lynskey.

“We also provide a fun morning out that the whole family can enjoy before heading off to other family activities, or they can stick around downtown Saratoga Springs for all of the festivities,” Lynskey continued.

The Firecracker4, which is a USATF Team Championship- and USATF/Saratoga Stryders Grand Prix- sanctioned event, gets underway at 9 a.m. and will be followed at 10 a.m. by an awards ceremony. The third annual Firecracker Sparkler Kids’ Run, a half-mile fun run down Broadway for more than 500 kids of all ages and abilities presented by the Saratoga Children’s Museum, will then begin at 10:55 a.m. right before the July 4th parade.  All participants will receive a commemorative finisher’s medal and refreshments, and parents are invited to run with their children. The Firecracker Sparkler Kids’ Run entry fee is $5, and you can register online through July 2 at midnight at firecracker4.com. Participants can also sign up in person at registration/packet pick up held at the City Center on July 3 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and July 4 from 7 to 8:45 a.m.

“In keeping with the patriotic spirit of the day, we plan to have the Veterans Business Council formation run again this year,” said Lynskey, noting that the Firecracker4 plans to issue all runners with a flag-shaped bib, as well as hand out flag-shaped age group medals this year.

“Area veterans will form up and run to the start line, post the colors and then run the race in formation with the flag. Re-enactors from New York 2nd Continental Artillery will also help start the race with muskets.  Their presence adds something extra special to the event,” he stated.

Runners are encouraged to form male/female/co-ed teams, including open, USATF Adirondack clubs, military, public safety, scholastic and Run Your Colors. The Run Your Colors team with the most registered runners will win a $1,000 first place team award donated to the not-forprofit of its choice.  The second and third place teams will receive $500 and $250 respectively to donate to a charity of their choosing. Organizers will also hand out awards in five-year increments, as well as a special award category for military and public safety (police/ fire/EMS) competitors. After finishing their runs, participants and spectators are invited to wander through the event’s vendor village featuring an array of food, apparel and running/fitness/health vendors.  A partial vendor list includes: Bodywork Professionals Saratoga, Orangetheory Fitness, Grasso’s Italian Ice, Camp Abilities Saratoga, Power House Athletics, 9 Miles East Farm, Army National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and SPoT Coffee. They can also listen to Funk Evolution, one of the Capital Region’s hottest horn-fueled funk/ R&B bands, perform on the main stage located at the City Center from 8:45 to 11 a.m.

“Farmers Hardware Saratoga and Gaffney’s will also provide finishers with one free adult beverage, while supplies last, as well as offer food and drink specials and entertainment all night near the finish line,” Lynskey added.

Participants and spectators are invited to stay in town to enjoy the city’s festive All-American Celebration featuring a parade, sidewalk sale, BBQ, classic car show, fireworks at dusk in Congress Park and much more. A full event schedule can be found at: www.saratogajuly4th.com. Those interested in running the Firecracker4 course before race day are invited to head to The Barrelhouse (68 Beekman Street in Saratoga) and Farmers Hardware (35 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs) on June 12, 19 and 26 at 6 p.m.  The practice sessions, presented by Fleet Feet Sports, will enable participants to run the course as a preview for race day before meeting back at Farmers Hardware.  For more information or to register, please visit firecracker4. com or call 518-587-1571. 

Photo provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Youth2 – Youth Helping Youth 15th Anniversary Gala is around the corner, coming up this July 30.  Youth2- Youth Helping Youth located in Saratoga Springs is a Field of Interest Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region run by an Advisory Board of students and adults. The charity is celebrating this momentous occasion with a summertime gathering. The gala will include a silent auction, a social action mission auction, as well as dinner and desserts donated by Lily and the Rose and the Bread Basket Bakery, respectively. Annie and the Hedonists, Jonathan Greene, Mira Van Patten and Elyssa King will provide music. Set upon the hilltop housing gorgeous Anne’s Washington Inn, the festivities are open from 6 to 9 pm. to all those in pursuit of supporting youth social action.

Youth2 has a long and rich history of connecting young people to community service and teaching leadership skills. The organization seeks to transform young people by giving them the opportunity to participate in meaningful philanthropic work.  Most uniquely, Youth2’s mission gives strong guidance and financial support to social action projects that are proposed, approved and led by young people. Youth2 has given 41 grants to assist youth locally, nationally, and globally throughout its existence. Students in Youth2 learn about the work of nonprofits and their own power to do good. The Book of Good Deeds, published by the organization, has over 100 opportunities for youth to participate locally to improve the community. The Trailblazing Volunteer Training, a three-and-a-half-hour workshop,
encourages young people to think about issues that they care about and turn their dreams into realities. Youth are recognized for their exemplary volunteering with the Community Service Incentive Award, given out at the end of each school year to two deserving seniors from high schools in Saratoga Springs. Fourteen years ago, Hallie Gibson McKinnon wanted to share her love of theatre with other kids in her community. Feeling that young people in her neighborhood had little to look forward to over the summer holidays, her creative expression turned into a mission. With her Youth2 grant, Hallie hired an acting teacher to create Theatre Thursdays, a weekly program that built community identity and friendships through theatre games and rehearsals. The youth’s hard work culminated in a performance for the neighborhood atthe end of the summer. Hallie’s idea and execution filled the summer months with a productive and fun activity, which every kid could enjoy. This is just one of the many creative visions held by past grant recipients.

In preparation for this event, Youth2 would like to thank the generosity of its many sponsors and the honorary committee listed on our website. Due to the kindness of local donors providing food, location, and entertainment, all proceeds from the event will directly enable Youth2’s continued work in the community. The Youth2 Fifteenth Anniversary Charity Gala will be held on 111 South Broadway at the Anne’s Washington Inn. The event will be from 6 to 9 pm. on Monday, July 30. Tickets can be purchased on youthsquared. org or brownpapertickets.com/ event/3416926. Admission is $25 for 22 and under; $50 for adults; $125 for a family of 4 or more. “Pay what you can” tickets are also available. Contact Beverly Lazar-Davis at 518281-9130 or youthsquared@yahoo. com with any questions.

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Louise Rourke, a retired teacher from Porter Corners, contracted polio at just six months old. She was in leg braces for the majority of her life and had several corrective surgeries. Spending her summers on Rockhurst, a small peninsula on the east side of Lake George, Rourke never felt more graceful than when she was swimming in the lake. 

“I always felt more graceful and free in the water than I can on land because I walk with a limp,” Rourke explained.

Since 2007, Rourke has been back in a leg brace.

Rourke has carried the idea of swimming the whole lake for the majority of her life, “when I was four, there was a woman named Diane Struble, who was a single mom, and she swam the length of Lake George back in 1958. I remember my parents telling me about that and all the publicity around it. I just remembered thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do that?’”

Two things occurred to make Rourke revisit that thought decades later: Her two sons, Devin and Sean, participated in volunteer work in Nepal. When she and her husband went to visit them, it was the first time she had ever been in a developing country, seeing firsthand people with shriveled limbs, like herself, and they were crawling instead of walking with a limp. They had no benefit of bracing or corrective surgeries.

“Of all of the wonderful things that are available to me as a citizen of the United States. The trip was a significant event that planted the seed of, ‘I wish I could do something for the people of Nepal in general,’” Rourke explained.

Rourke will be doing a relay swim with Brigette Simpson for the Saratoga Rotary Club to fundraise and raise awareness for polio and public health immunization.

“Abilities rather than disabilities,” said Donald McPherson, a Saratoga Rotary Club member, in a press release about the event.

Simpson swam the length of Lake George last year on her own. Rourke met her in the fall and swam with her with a triathlon club.

“She was very encouraging to me. She said, ‘you could do the lake if that’s what you want to do.’ So, I considered it. She did it for her 50th birthday, and I just turned 64 in May, so, I wasn’t so confident about doing the whole lake. She suggested a relay and that appealed to me. I’ve been practicing all winter long. I’ve always been a swimmer, all my life, but this past fall, after meeting her, I ramped up my swimming at the Y in Saratoga and I started training. We’ll each end up doing 17 miles. Our plan is to swim the first mile together and the last mile together, and then the 30 miles in between we’ll alternate fivemile sections,” Rourke said, explaining how the relay swim will work.

Both women will be accompanied by at least one follow boat and two paddle boats per swimmer.

“When I decided that I wanted to do a relay and Brigette agreed to help her, she wanted to do it with a purpose in mind and then the Saratoga Rotary Club decided to back them,” Rourke said.

“We’re hoping by the week of July 30 we would be able to do the relay, so either July 30, 31 or August 1, 2, or 3,” Rourke said.

Contributions can be made at various sponsorship levels from $100 to $1,000 or beyond. To donate, checks can be made out to Rotary District 7190/Polio and mailed to District 7190, PO Box 306, Clifton Park, NY 12065.

Friday, 22 June 2018 14:56

Athlete of the Week: Joseph Bokan

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Joseph Bokan, an 18-year-old, recent graduate from Saratoga Springs Central School District has his sights set on Fordham University in the fall, which is a different view for him after spending the last six and half years rowing through Saratoga Rowing Association (SRA).

“A mutual friend of my fathers’, Jordan, brought me to the boathouse for the first time. I got shown around, I met a few kids who I’m still friends with, from then it just grew on me. Then I joined as a varsity rower,” Bokan said, explaining how he got involved with SRA.

His parents were happy to jump on board when he decided to join after finding out how many opportunities the sport presented to him; “we found out how you really become friends with your buddies in your boat for so long, and she was all for it as well,” he said.

Spring and fall are the main racing seasons with winter training indoors and summer training out on the water.

“In the summer, it’s a bit less competitive but it’s more so to keep fit throughout the summer and have some fun. For the most part, it’s pretty much a year-round sport. I think spring is our most competitive with the fall being a bit less competitive,” he explained.

As a kid, Bokan played the typical sports: basketball, baseball, and soccer. Once he joined rowing, he lost the excess time to devote to any other sport.

“It’s so important to be there for every practice and it’s basically a year-round sport, I really didn’t have time to play any other sports, but I’m happy I just rowed because it was hard enough and there was so much time committed to it that it just worked out anyways,” he stated.

Since Bokan is so aware of the time commitment it takes to succeed on the water, he has elected not to pursue the rowing club at Fordham his freshmen year, “because rowing ended on such a great note this spring,” to mainly focus on his academics.

Bokan cannot declare a major until his sophomore year but he is looking to major in finance with a minor in economics.

Though he does realize, “at any point I can join the team at Fordham if I end up missing it too much and there’s a good chance I will end up doing it,” he laughed.

“Over the past four years I have made it to Scholastic Nationals. In my freshman and junior year, we ended up winning nationals. Freshman year was in a two-person boat and in junior year I won in a four-person boat, and this last year we ended up not winning, but it was just so great to get to Scholastic Nationals for the fourth time, especially the seniors, since it’s so competitive in senior events. It really just ended on a high note because I was still with all my friends and it was kind of a last hoorah for all of us before we go off to college,” Bokan reminisced.

SRA has the Head of the Fish and the Tail of the Fish Regattas each year and Bokan prefers the Head of the Fish because it is “a much larger regatta than the Tail of the Fish, and I think it was the largest high school junior rowing regatta in the entire U.S. It’s just such a great time because I’ve met a lot of people from other crews that are from Seattle or Los Angeles that are coming to this regatta from all the way across the U.S. and it’s just a great time to meet new people. Just the magnitude of the regatta itself, it’s like a parade practically,” he explained.

Bokan credits both of his parents for being the most supportive in his rowing career. His mom would work the regattas and make sure everything went smoothly behind the scenes while his dad always volunteered his time in the boathouse if there were ever any maintenance issues.

“At every single one of my races, they were there supporting me over the bridge, rooting for my boat,” he explained.

Rowing is clearly near to Bokan’s heart, he describes it as a great sport with amazing opportunities attached and the opportunity to make life- long friendships.

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