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Clear Channel Helping to Bring Sports to CREC Magnet Schools

Radio corporation hosting Patriots alumni fundraiser event tonight in South Windsor.

When children choose to leave their home school district for a Capitol Region Education Council magnet school, they leave the opportunity for athletics behind.

Indeed, the CREC magnet schools offer, among other things, concentrations in arts, math and science, but one thing they’ve never had is sports.

But Clear Channel Communications is partnering with CREC to change that by hosting a series of fundraisers, beginning tonight with a “Night of Champions” at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.

The fundraisers will pay for athletics programs at CREC middle schools in the Greater Hartford area.

Renee DiNino, director of community affairs for Clear Channel, is in charge of getting the radio station corporation connected to great causes in the community and decided to partner with CREC to pilot the district’s first athletic programs.

“We united with CREC for the first interscholastic athletic programs. It will be the first of its kind, hopefully starting in the greater Hartford area in middle school and growing to include all grades throughout the state,” DiNino said.

And while CREC students have left behind home districts that likely offered interscholastic sports, many of them would not have been able to play anyway, because of the high cost of pay-to-play.

“We’re looking to create this program as a template to ensure these kids will never pay to play. Studies have been done and research shows that those kids that are involved in interscholastic sports score higher on tests and have better attendance,” DiNino said. “Most of these kids would never have been able to play sports if they were to attend traditional schools because of pay-to-play.”

Tonight’s fundraiser will be the first step in ensuring the program will be open to all CREC students regardless of their ability to pay. Clear Channel, Maneeley's, United Healthcare, Power Station and the XL Center are major sponsors of the event.

The “Night of Champions” brings New England Patriots’ alumni Joe Andruzzi, Peter Brock and Tebucky Jones to Maneeley’s for dinner, a silent auction and a chance to meet the members of the 2002 Superbowl Champion team. Past players for the Chargers, Broncos, Eagles and Colts have also said they’ll be attending, DiNino said.

cheerleaders, led by Trisha Hooth, will greet VIP guests at the door and perform on stage before the event begins. A full dinner will be served and the movie, Three Games to Glory, memorializing the Patriots’ run up to the playoffs in 2001, will be shown. Audience members will be able to ask questions of the players.

The silent auction includes sports memorabilia, including signed Yankee baseballs, Patriots jerseys tickets to sporting events at the XL Center, UConn and Whale tickets, gift packages for Mohegan Sun and signed music CDs.

Tickets to the event are $50 per person for general admission and dinner, beginning at 6 p.m. A special VIP Patriots player reception is planned beforehand, beginning at 5:30. Tickets to that, with admission and dinner included are $100.

Purchase tickets by calling the Box Office at 860-757-6388 or online at www.crec.org/sports by midday.

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