Written by Joe Scotchie Wednesday, 02 October 2013 00:00
The Park at East Hills, long the pride of the community, has held many family-centered events throughout the years. Few have been as special as the flag football game held last Sunday.
The event, in addition to several ongoing football games, also featured music, food, beverages and face painting. It was held to benefit Autism Speaks. The day was inspired by an enterprising East Hills youth, Cole Faller, whose best friend,
Luke Greenfield, is a special needs student at East Hills School, the same school that Cole attends.
According to organizers, over 300 people attended, including dozens of young football players. The park area, which in the past has hosted many outdoor concerts, was now home to a half-dozen flag football games as area youngsters were divided into age and grade groups. For their contributions, youngsters all wore a handsome “Go Long For Luke” jersey, plus the usual flag football belts. It was hard to keep up with all the great games that were being played on the large field, but all of the participants, from pre-K levels up to those in junior high school, were having a great time as several future stars for Roslyn High School’s football squad were definitely in the making.
“We had 300 people and raised over $5,000,” said Sandi Greenfield, Luke’s mother and a major organizer of the event. “This was truly a remarkable fundraiser and the theme was ‘kids raising money for kids.’” In fact, the day was so successful that the organizers now plan to make it an annual event.
Music and entertainment were donated by the Echo Agency, while food was courtesy of The Grill at East Hills and Lontza Pizza.
But a big mover and shaker behind the event was Cole Faller. In the weeks leading up to the day of flag football, Cole issued a message to the Roslyn community, inviting them to make the day a success.
“Luke has autism,” Cole wrote. “It’s okay…Autism is just a different way of thinking…. It’s fun to play with him because he is so fast. All the time he runs everywhere. I love to chase him…. Luke has a sister named Sophie and parents just like me. He has many friends also. Some kids with autism hear, see, smell and taste differently than other people. He covers his ears if someone screams. To Luke, it sounds about 10 times louder. He cannot communicate that well, so he does it through an iPad. He has a schedule too. Luke understands some things differently. That’s my buddy Luke.”
Those touching words worked remarkably well. Residents were asked to forget about the Jets and Giants and benefit this worthy cause by opening their hearts and wallets to benefit a worthy cause. And that is exactly what happened as the organizers, as noted, now plan to make the “Go Long for Luke” an annual event.