On December 18, the WBO Kids Drug Free Program invited the Kronk Gym Foundation and the boxing community of Puerto Rico to help Sister Mildred Vazquez in the donation for youngsters with more than 400, bicycles, toys and t-shirts to the youngsters. “It’s a big job, and what we do, does make a difference for these kids to move forward in life,” said Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, WBO President.
The WBO Kids Drug Free Program and the annual event held at Centro Sor Isolina in Ponce, aim to provide youth in Ponce with alternatives to the streets and drugs. For more than 15 years, the WBO Kids Drug Free Program has worked with Ponce and other communities globally to —boxing’s biggest stars including Wladamir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr. and the late Emanuel Steward amongst other notables.
“To see the youngsters eyes light up with a smile covering such sweet faces when their name was called to pick up their bicycle, and they were so proud to wear their Kronk Gym Foundation shirt, was more than I could ever ask for this holiday season,” said Anita Ruiz, longtime Steward companion, business aid and Kronk Gym Foundation executive director.
The Kronk Gym Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to making a difference in the well-being of youth through character-building, education and recreation. Since 1969, the Kronk Gym has provided a recreational outlet for youngsters.
Many of the youth in this program become world champions, but even more become world champion citizens. The goal is to carry on Emanuel Steward’s Legacy and provide recreational facilities, in addition to mentoring, for the overall development of youth and the community.
The WBO provided the toys and bicycles, the Kronk Gym Foundation provided the shirts in a partnership that is going to continue stateside as the WBO and the Kronk Gym Foundation work together to provide new equipment for the boxing gym. The Kronk Gym Foundation’s new facility will be located in Detroit.
At this year’s event, the boxing community of Puerto Rico came out to volunteer their time Alex “El Nene” Sanchez, Alfredo “Salsero” Escalera, Angel “Cholo” Espada, contenders Jayson “The Star” Velez, Abner “Pin ” Cotto, prospects Felix “Diamante” Verdejo, Alberto Machado, Rey “Maestro” Ojeda and amateur fighters Mercedes Alicea, Celiel Castillo, Nelson Santana and Ernesto Alicea, Former WBO Champion Samuel Serranos, WBO officials including WBO referees, Gino Rodriguez & Luis Perez, WBO Judges Nelson Vasquez & Carlos Cologne, WBO president, Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, WBO Secretary, Jose Izquierdo and many others.