The Johnston Panthers Youth Football and Cheer organization, which was founded more than four decades ago, is about to rewrite its chock-full, tradition-rich history book.
Not since the highly-regarded youth program, which is made up of 250 boys ands girls ages 5-14 who play organized football and cheer, has there been so much preseason excitement as there is for the gridiron group’s first ever Walk-a-Thon and Family Fun Day scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 4 rain or shine.
“Excitement is building with each passing day,” Matt Clements, the Panthers’ poplar president, explained. “We’re going to make Johnston War Memorial Park resemble a min-Applefast. The event will start at 9 a.m. and continue until 5 o’clock; we’ll have something for every member of a family.”
The Panthers theme is, as Clements said with a smile, “An event people won’t want to miss. We’ll have food – and lots of it – and fantastic fun that is a chance for all Johnstonians to support a youth program that prepares its football players and cheerleaders for future years when they move on to the high school level.”
Clements also announced that ladies like Kristy Pistacchio, Tara Abbruzzi and Dawn Barry have been instrumental in organizing the unique Walk-a-Thon and Family Fun Day as a way to future provide revenue to operate the always costly grid and cheerleading programs.
During the Walk-A-Thon portion of the Aug. 4 event, each football team’s players and cheerleaders will be collecting donations and walking one mile inside War Memorial Park to raise additional funds.
“We’ve asked the families of all our (football) players and cheerleaders to participate in this special first for the Panthers,” Mike Senno, the group’s vice president, noted. “There are nearly 250 boys and girls as well as 15 board members and lots of adult volunteers; we’re hoping for a record setting turnout.”
Senna then listed many of the day’s events, including a 50/50 raffle and special drawing for a motorized electric bike that was donated for the day by Gary Salzillo, former Panthers’ president who owns and operates Northeast Auto Body at 775 Hartford Avenue in Johnston.
Clements, meanwhile, emphasized there will be over 20 arts and craft vendors, food and drinks including hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and pepper and much, much more. The day will also feature a Taco and ice cream truck.
Perhaps one of the day’s most popular items will be a Dunk Tank that will offer people an opportunity to drop their favorite coach or whomever into the cold water.
There will also be carnival style games with lots of prizes, face painting and several inflatables including a giant obstacle course.
“And no such event,” Clements continued, “would be complete without music. For that, we have young Joey Acciardo, son of Johnston High School Head Football Coach Joe Acciardo, who at a young age is already and accomplished disc jockey. The entire day is to benefit the boys and girls of the Panthers football and cheer organization and we’d like to thank people - in advance - for any support they could provide on Sunday, Aug. 4.”