90 Days: Aiming for a Super legacy
November, 4, 2013
By Matt Ehalt | ESPNNewYork.com
Courtesy NY/NJ Super Bowl Host CommitteeJets owner Woody Johnson with Super Bowl host committee CEO Al Kelly at a Snowflake Youth Foundation event.Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 90 days to the Super Bowl.
PERTH AMBOY, N.J. -- The NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee didn't want it's legacy to end at the final whistle of Super Bowl XLVIII.
It wanted to leave a lasting impression on the metropolitan area, something that would better the lives of youth in the area longer after a champion is crowned on Feb. 2, 2014.
Enter the Snowflake Youth Foundation, part of the committee's legacy project.
"The Super Bowl is only a week really culminating with the Sunday game," New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said. "But how we are remembered in the community is something we tried to achieve with this."
The Snowflake Youth Foundation is a charity created in 2012 by the host committee that helps renovate and transform after-school facilities for youth in the area. It's based out of MetLife Stadium, and its board of trustees includes Johnson and host committee President Al Kelly.
Kelly said each Super Bowl host committee attempts to undertake a legacy effort, and this year's committee decided it would focus its efforts on school-aged children. The name for the foundation came about from combining a winter element, due to the game's location, and the youth being served.
"Getting kids in the early part of their lives and getting the right habits and exercise and good teaching was what we wanted to focus on," Johnson said.
Kelly said that most legacy efforts involve one singular project, but he made sure to tell the NFL after being hired that one effort couldn't possibly work for this year's Super Bowl. With the game being played in New Jersey, and combining the New York elements, Kelly and the committee agreed they needed to undertake different projects that would have an effect across the states.
On Oct. 10, the Snowflake Youth Foundation announced a series of projects it will undertake in the Big Apple on the backing of a grant of more than $1 million from the NFL Foundation and host committee. These include new playgrounds, football fields and gyms throughout the five boroughs.
On Oct. 29, similar projects were announced for New Jersey, once again from a grant of more than $1 million from the NFL Foundation and NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee. Friday, at a press conference in Perth Amboy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation granted $1.5 million to be distributed by the Snowflake Youth Foundation to help nine places affected by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.
Kelly said the committee has already raised approximately between $4-$4.5 million, and the goal is to raise more than $5 million. He believes $5 million would be a record for a host committee.
"That would probably allow us to do some 30-35 projects across the region which would be fantastic," Kelly said.
One of the recipients of the foundation's grant money is the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development in Perth Amboy. Friday, it showed off its new Ready-Set-Play room. Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the foundation, within three weeks the multi-purpose room went from being virtually unusable due to damage from Hurricane Sandy to a functioning, colorful play area for younger children.
It's those kind of lasting effects that the Snowflake Youth Foundation is aiming for in the 90 days leading up to the Super Bowl.
"One of the great things about a Super Bowl is you can do all of the things you maybe couldn't do otherwise. This Super Bowl is extraordinary and gives us the opportunity to raise a lot of money because we're at the focus of attention," Johnson said. I'm privileged to be a part of it. I love what we're doing here. It's very important.
"Looking at these kids, I know it's going to have a great outcome."
Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII.