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    Beat the Streets' fundraiser raises $500,000

    NEW YORK -- On April 30, 2009 Olympic gold medalists, world champions and leaders in the wrestling community gathered to support Beat the Streets Wrestling Program at its annual gala fundraiser, “Golden Night at Guastavino’s” where $500,000 was raised to aide the organization’s work in providing wrestling opportunities for New York City students. Highlights of the evening included the official Olympic ring presentation to 2008 Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo and the gathering of nine Olympic gold medalists, including Bruce Baumgartner, Jeff Blatnick, Doug Blubaugh, Tom Brands, Steve Fraser, Ken Monday, Brandon Slay, and John Smith, on one stage to present awards to New York City coaches and a lifetime achievement award to Al Bevilacqua.

    Beat the Streets’ gala fundraiser "Golden Night at Guastavino's" was held to help fund and support the organization’s work in providing approximately 4,000 boys and girls wrestling opportunities and safe havens for them to practice.

    “It is in times like these when the need for leadership in our businesses, cities, towns, and institutions is imperative,” said Mike Novogratz, Chairman, Beat the Streets. “The education of a wrestler—the lessons learned from the grueling years of hard work, discipline, toughness, and competition—produces the kinds of men and women that lead with their feet, that aren’t scared of adversity, and that do the right thing when they encounter tough choices. America needs wrestlers right now, more than ever.”

    "As a kid who was born in South Central Los Angeles to undocumented parents and raised in a low-income neighborhood in Phoenix, AZ, I am a living example of a Beat the Streets wrestler," said Henry Cejudo. “I was lucky that I found wrestling, thanks to the great work of organizations like Beat the Streets, and I am glad to support children from similar backgrounds as mine to achieve their American dream.”

    The evening’s program culminated with Beat the Streets honoring 3 local wrestling coaches for their dedication to the organization, the sport of wrestling and the children of New York City. High School Coach of the Year was Ned Campbell of James Madison High School in Brooklyn. Middle School Coach of the Year was Ray Novelli of MS 19 in the Bronx. Assistant Coach of the Year was Mike Ferrazano of Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn.

    Beat the Streets Board Member and Trustee, Al Bevilacqua, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Al was USA Wrestling’s Coach of the Year in 1983. He has received a Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and a Special Service Award from U.S. Wrestling Federation. Among the Halls of Fame in which he has been inducted are the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame and the New York University Athletic Hall of Fame. Al was also USA Wrestling Man of the Year in 2005.

    “I’m honored to have been recognized by Beat the Streets, an organization near and dear to my heart, with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Al Bevilacqua, Board Member and Trustee, Beat the Streets. “Beat the Streets has done an incredible job in creating and expanding wrestling programs throughout New York City public schools, and I’m happy to carry on their mission by helping implement Beat the Streets wrestling programs across the country.”

    The Beat the Streets Wrestling Program is a not-for-profit organization that creates opportunities for boys and girls from New York City schools to participate in after-school wrestling programs in safe and nurturing environments. Beat the Streets provides free coaching, gear and equipment; free access to afterschool training centers in all five boroughs; all-expenses paid trips to the most prestigious training camps in the country; and safe havens for students from the poorest urban neighborhoods seeking to improve their fitness and stay on the right path.

    Approximately 4,000 boys and girls from New York City schools currently participate in the organization’s afterschool programs. Beat the Streets’ work has effectively helped the sport of wrestling grow in New York City. In 2005, New York City's Public School Athletic League had 23 teams only in high schools and fewer than 300 kids enrolled. Now New York City has wrestling teams in 58 high schools and 54 middle schools with 4,000 enrollees.

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