Long Island Boxing Club Remains a Safe Haven for Sandy Victims

The Freeport PAL Boxing Club, located on the north side of Long Island, N.Y., has been transforming underprivileged youth into productive community citizens for 16 years. More often than not, boxers who train at the club go on to become upstanding citizens in the community with careers as policemen, firefighters, railroad workers and military personnel. Recently, one of the club’s most promising athletes, Patrick Day, experienced a huge loss when Hurricane Sandy flooded his family’s home, destroying everything they owned. Day’s family was forced to completely gut their house to begin restoration. Day is a National Boxing Champion, U.S. Amateur Boxing Foundation scholarship winner and college student majoring in nutrition.

Day’s trainer, Joe Higgins, is a retired New York firefighter and no stranger to devastation. He was an emergency responder on the scene of 9/11 and also lost his home in the Sandy “superstorm” that caused an estimated $63 billion worth of damage in the United States. Higgins describes Day as a “breath of fresh air” and “the ultimate athlete.” Higgins trains his athletes with tough love in order to build them up to be prepared for the rough times and hardships in life. Clearly, this training method is working.

The Freeport club, where Day has trained for the last seven years, remained unscathed after the storm. It has been an escape from the destruction Day experiences at his home on the south side of the island. Day has tried to regain a sense of normalcy by continuing to train. Every day before helping his parents gut their home and clean up debris he goes for a run through the neighborhood. He has seen firsthand the destruction on many parts of Long Island. After helping with the clean up, Day goes to the gym to carry on with his training. He is a great role model for aspiring athletes in any sport. “Patrick is in a class all by himself,” Higgins says. “He is a shining example of what boxing needs to see more of.” This is proven through his determination and dedication to the sport of boxing. Higgins describes the community efforts to clean up Long Island and the determination exhibited by the club’s boxers to keep training as an “educational experience.” It is an experience that has “made us all a little closer,” he says.