via Real Talk/WCBS
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBS) ― It’s no act: a Hollywood superstar is upset about plans to cut the sports programs in a local New York school district. Now he’s digging into his own pocket and making a personal plea to save the team.
“I am a direct result of the athletic programs in Mount Vernon. That is why I am here today.”
Those are the words of Oscar winner Denzel Washington, who isn’t pulling any punches when talking about the budget crisis that could force his hometown to cut all school athletic programs.
“I was upset and I am still upset about what’s going on, and I am going to find some answers,” he said during a news conference Tuesday.
The crisis began in June, when Mount Vernon voters defeated the school budget not once, but twice. Forced to cut $4 million, the district dropped funding for every sports team.
Over the summer, Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young created the “Save Our Sports” program, raising enough money to preserve the school’s fall teams. But it will take another $630,000 to save the winter and spring sports.
“They don’t have much after-school programs, so they need sports back in Mount Vernon,” said Ivornie Paterson, a concerned parent.
Tennis coach Elyse Hintzen agreed.
“I’ve been a teacher and a coach here for 32 years and I was a student here. I know the wonderful impact that athletics can have on our children,” she said.
Earlier this month, Washington donated $100,000 of his own money to the cause and he hopes future students will have the same opportunities that he had while growing up.
“If there were no athletic programs in Mount Vernon, I would not be the Denzel Washington that you know today,” he said.
To save Mount Vernon’s winter sports teams, the community needs to raise another $270,000 by mid-October.
You can join the campaign to save interscholastic sports in Mount Vernon Schools:
Volunteer to raise money! Write a check! Contributions are 100% tax deductible. Checks can be made out to: “Mount Vernon Educational Foundation, Inc.” with a Memo: “Sports” or “Save Our Sports” and sent to:
Ms. Ronnie Cox, President
Mount Vernon Educational Foundation
P.O. Box 476
Mount Vernon, NY10552