In thinking back over the last 11 years, I have had a lot of connections with some incredible PAL youth. One of the most memorable is Ronnell. Ronnell went from a kid who was homeless to a young man who went to college. During his first semester at Northwest, I took him to and from the campus numerous times with conversations ranging from sports to family. He was part of my family as we talked about him and cared about him all the time. One of the most memorable times for me was several years later when Ronnell came back to the PAL Center. Dion called me and said he had somebody who wanted to talk with me. Ronnell got on the phone just to say hi, as we had lost touch because his family moved around a lot. He started to cry as we talked. It was an emotional call as we caught up. I was full of pride for the young man he had become.
PAL is a special place for everyone involved. One of our volunteer coaches told me I saved his life with my support of him and his introduction to the PAL youth. Coach Cameron was our initial coach of our Running Club several years ago as our paths crossed. I did not know until recently how much Cameron “needed” PAL in his life. He was new to KC, and things fell into place for him with purpose through PAL. At my retirement, Cameron shared how much his life was changed because of my belief in him and his ability to connect with the PAL youth through running. I am humbled to have him in my life.
I have been a part of a team that has constructed hundreds of projects at the Center … more than $5 million dollars in improvements and construction at the PAL Center through donors, volunteers, corporate sponsors and grants, while also fundraising over $3 million to support PAL programming over those years.
At the National Annual PAL Conference, we created and delivered curriculum several years in a row to assist other PAL Chapters in North America. In 2019, I was asked to represent our organization in Austria and New Zealand at the International Blue Light Conference in Queenstown, New Zealand. There were over 100 organizations in the South Pacific represented who learned about our PAL program. It was a great honor to share our story of Kansas City. Obviously a very memorable experience!
Probably my greatest accomplishment at PAL was to be part of a team who provided the foundation/environment for a lot of special officers and volunteers to connect with PAL youth and their families. I never saw my immediate role as the day-to-day operations for PAL. I felt like my job was to provide everything I could for others to be successful in building the positive relationships with the PAL families daily. That was everything from constructing a football field from scratch, designing a new basketball court, and installing new locker rooms to securing new vans for the PAL Officers, hiring a cleaning company to maintain the building so the officers didn’t have to, sharing stories to draw in new sponsors and donors or developing the wellness and resiliency program for our youth. Every day was different. I saw my role to clear the path so others could be successful, ultimately impacting generations of youth and their families. And for that, I am grateful.
Hello everyone! We are back from our trip and it was a giant success!
First and foremost we would like to express our gratitude to the all of you for making this potentially once in a lifetime experience possible. We recognize without your help it would not have happened and we are beyond grateful. I construct this email with tears in my eyes as I reflect on the magnitude of what we all took part in and I thank you. You ALL truly make a difference.
The trip went very well: basically perfect! A lot of behind the scenes planning was done here at PAL to ensure the success of this trip and Officer Walker and Officer Swaggart worked diligently in making this happen. The evening prior Officer Walker took all of our kiddos for a haircut while Officer Swaggart ensured all bags were packed and all clothes were clean.
The trip went very smooth starting with all of the children staring out their windows, some already outside, waiting intently for us to pick them up! Everyone loved the train ride, the outings and of course the hotel. There were many opportunities for teaching moments and each child returned home safe, full of memories, new experiences, and maybe most importantly, rest.
On the final ride home I asked each child what their favorite part of the trip was. One said “the arch”, one said “the train”. The others said “the sleep” and “the beds”. These words left me speechless.
We do not always know what our PAL kiddos home lives are like. We do not know how our kiddos sleep or the chaos that surrounds them as they lay their heads down at night. But we do know that for two nights, these children slept peacefully in clean beds surrounded with loving and caring police officers who ensured their safety. They loved it and you made that happen.
It would be almost impossible to put into words the level of excitement, awe, and gratitude the children had so instead I will share pictures that capture some very special and unforgettable moments. There are so many great ones that it is difficult to chose so I have included all that I could! We were fortunate to take a member of our media crew with us (thank you Officer Whitelaw) and video of the event will be available soon!!!
Again, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.
Sgt. Susie Fabian KCPD Police Athletic League (816) 413-3621 1801 White Avenue KCMO 64126
ANGELO’S COURTS: The Police Athletic League of Kansas City (PAL) now has two brand-new pickleball courts, thanks to the wish and hard work of two of its biggest supporters.
With the courts, PAL kids will now be able to play America’s fastest-growing sport at the PAL Center, located at 1801 White Ave.
Kansas City resident Salli Katz spearheaded the fundraising effort to create the courts, raising $70,000 through personal donations and corporate partnerships.
About five years ago, Katz and her boyfriend Angelo Fiataruolo toured the facility and fell in love with PAL. It spoke to Fiataruolo because he could relate to it, thinking of his childhood. During the pandemic, Fiataruolo got sick and died in the hospital alone. Before he passed away, Fiataruolo asked Katz to honor his final wish “to do something special for PAL.”
Fiataruolo and Katz loved to play pickleball. So in Fiataruolo’s memory and for the love of the PAL program, Katz and her friends raised money to build two pickleball courts for PAL.
Speaking of the PAL program, Katz said to friends and family at the dedication, “This building isn’t made of brick and mortar. It’s made of heart.”
The mission of the Police Athletic League of Kansas City is to offer youth the opportunity to interact with police officers in a positive setting while participating in cultural, mentoring, and sports programs, with the main emphasis on academics.