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Donation of Funds Will Support LI Athletes with Special Needs

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano has announced that the County partnered with Y.H. Park Olympic Taekwondo for the 6th Annual New York Open Taekwondo Championship/Korean Cultural Festival on October 22 at the Athletic Center at Chaminade High School. The County Executive declared the day of the Championship “Taekwondo Day.” To show their appreciation, Y.H. Park donated the $4,000 raised from admission fees collected at the festival to Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE). Anita Dowd-Neufeld, Divisional Director, FREE was on hand to accept the check on behalf of FREE. The funds will support Long Island athletic programs for those individuals with autism and special needs, many of whom go on to compete in the Special Olympics.

Currently an East Meadow resident, Y.H. Park is a former United States Olympic Coach and was the undefeated Korean national Taekwondo champion from 1971-1975. He has also authored seven books about the martial art.

“Y.H. Park understands that charity begins at home and I applaud him for his generosity and hope others follow this incredible example of giving,” said Mangano. “I have always believed that local organizations and businesses are the heart of our community, and this donation is a great illustration of why they are so important.”

“It is with honor and distinction that the New York Open Taekwondo Championship/Korean Cultural Festival donates these funds to a worthy cause and beneficial charity in FREE. We are privileged to be working with the County and hope to continue giving back to the community to make it stronger and more prosperous in the years to come,” said Director Y.H. Park.

“We are grateful to Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and Yeon Hwan Park for selecting FREE as the recipient of the 2011 New York Open Taekwondo/Korean Cultural Festival,” said Robert S. Budd, chief executive officer, FREE. “The generous donation from Yeon Hwan Park will help us to provide the individuals we are privileged to support with innovative services that allow them to share their special gifts and talents in the community where they live.”

Hundreds of residents of Family Residences and Essential Enterprises with disabilities compete in the Special Olympic Games. They participate in seven different sporting events and have won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. However, the athletic programs have faced tough economic times locally and throughout the United States.

Taekwondo, a Korean Martial Art, enjoys popularity throughout the world and holds the unique position as a Martial Art, Korean cultural export, and World Olympic Sport. Although the New York Open Taekwondo Championship has been an annual event the Tournament Committee decided to suspend activities in 2009 out of respect for the economic circumstances; beginning this year, the event included International Team Competition with International Referees, and National Teams from the United States, Korea, Canada, and Mexico.

The 6th Annual New York Open Taekwondo Championship/Korean Cultural Festival provided young athletes with the opportunity to showcase their abilities and hone their skills. This year the Championship was a tremendous success and was attended by over 450 competitors and approximately another 1,000 spectators including family and friends of the participants which had an immediate positive impact on tourism in the area. Many attendees stayed in local hotels, ate at local restaurants and came away with a wonderful impression of our community.