“If you can’t dress the part, you certainly won’t play the part, either,” mused Matt Clements, first-year president of Panthers Youth Football and Cheer.
With that adage in mind, the stage is set for Sunday’s historic Family Fun Day and Walk-A-Thon, which will run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. – rain or shine – within the friendly confines of Johnston War Memorial Park.
“We’ll have everything from A to Z, including a dunk tank, two obstacle courses – one for adults and another for the children from Absolute Fun Thrills of Warwick – face painting, food, carnival-style games, food trucks and a total of 20 vendors who have signed on to sell their wares and help the boys and girls who represent the Johnston Panthers in the Blackstone Valley Division of the American Football Conference,” Clements said.
Perhaps the multi-colored sign at the Hartford Avenue entrance to Johnston War Memorial Park best describes how the Panthers Youth Football & Cheer does business.
The sign was designed by Linda Nadeau – advertising account executive for the Johnston Sun Rise – and serves as the Panthers “open invitation” for residents to attend Sunday’s first-ever Family Fun Day and Walk-A-Thon.
“We’re thrilled with the ad and its design,” Clements said. “It was so tastefully done that we wanted have it made into a sign to welcome people to what will be a super special event for people of all ages.”
Former Panthers president Gary Salzillo, who owns and operates Northeast Auto Body at 775 Hartford Ave., paid for the advertisement to be made into a billboard as another way to encourage Johnstonians to take part in what promises to be one of the group’s biggest and best fundraisers in history.
“It costs a lot of money to operate a [football] program like ours,” Clements said. “In this day and age, youth football helmets are obviously as highly priced as ever, and uniform costs are also up there, yet we want ensure that our players and cheerleaders continue to be the best-dressed squads in the league.”
Moreover, there will be several raffles, including one for a motorized electric bike that has been donated by Toni-Ann and Gary Salzillo, parents of two Panthers and long-serving youth sports volunteers in Johnston.
“I can guarantee that whoever comes to the park Sunday won’t have to worry about food. We’ll have food trucks … sausage and pepper sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers,” Salzillo said. “No one will go hungry.”
If the weather cooperates, War Memorial Park will be overflowing with people turning out to help sustain the success for the 250-plus boys and girls who represent the town in youth football games and cheerleading competitions.