By Jeffrey Bessen
LILacrosseNews.com, Posted 2/4/12
After a game shortly before Christmas, high school juniors Danny Hartman and Mike McKee spoke about how it upset them that they had so much given to them, while others had little or nothing.
They sought an idea where the munificence they have enjoyed in their lives could be shared with people that are less fortunate.
“We were talking and said we have all this nice equipment and a nice field to play on and you looked around and some people have nothing, no food, no clothes,” said McKee, a Wantagh resident, who attends MacArthur High School in Levittown.
At first, both lacrosse players thought of donating Christmas presents, but they realized that presents are nice; however, food is a much more needed item. So they came up with a charity lacrosse tournament. The pair organized a boys’ high school event that will be held Sunday at Turf Island Indoor Sports in Oceanside from 9 a.m.-to-noon.
“We wanted to intertwine lacrosse and what better way to donate and play in a noncompetitive atmosphere, where everyone could come together?” said Hartman, who lives in Merrick and attends Bellmore John F. Kennedy High School. “Everybody is concerned with college and this gives them a little break.”
That break will include playing several 20- to 25-minute games. Participants – about 200 are expected to play – and attendees are asked to donate $20 worth of non-perishable food or canned goods. The collection will benefit Long Island Cares, a Hauppauge-based organization that provides food to families in need and an array of programs. It also has a service center in Freeport.
Hartman and McKee, who play on opposite teams and in rival positions; Hartman is attack and McKee is defense teamed up to also go door to door in their respective communities, and collected more than $2,000, which was also donated to LI Cares.
“It was pretty interesting; people were pretty willing to give and everyone was very friendly,” said Hartman, who added that donations ranged from $5 to $25.
“Some said it was a great and gave and some said they were not really sure, but some said you kids are doing something great,” McKee added.
The teens, who are both 16, met playing PAL lacrosse, when they were in elementary school and have continued a friendly rivalry, but are teammates on a summer league team. This is how they got Turf Island to come aboard.
Summer team lacrosse coach Joe Amato, is the owner of the Oceanside facility. McKee and his father, also Mike, approached Amato and asked him how much he would charge using the indoor field for the charity event.
“He said you are doing this great thing and he gave it to us all for free,” McKee said.
Response was also enthusiastic from their respective teammates and coaches as they both received a green light to introduce it at a practice. They printed flyers and advertised the event at games, which attracted more than 200 participants.
“When we told (our teammates) about their eyes lit up and they said we wished we thought of that,” McKee said.
Though the pair is split on whether they ever thought they would do something like this; yes from Hartman, “not really” from McKee, the duo both saw their idea come to fruition. “It is fun to play against friends from different schools, it is pretty cool,” Hartman said.
And lending a helping hand to those who need it, is pretty cool too.