YONKERS, NY -- On Wednesday, December 11th, STEER hosted it's 6th Annual Holiday Dinner to recognize another successful year for STEER student-athletes, advisors, families, staff, and partners. From Port Chester to Yonkers to the Bronx, the organization brought together it's 4 schools for a night of reflection, acknowledgment, and inspiration.
The night began with an address from STEER's Chief Model Officer, Joe Durney, to welcome and recognize many of the familiar faces in the room. First and foremost, the student-athletes and families, who by virtue of their actions and commitment to improvement determine how successful STEER programs can be. As important as the students and families we serve are the STEER Advisors who mentor and provide services to the student-athletes from induction into the program until high school graduation.
Additionally, Durney welcomed community partners from all over Westchester County, including representatives from Carver Center, Purchase College Athletics, Sylvan Learning Center, Port Chester Community Gardens, the Port Chester Board of Education, the Port Chester Village Board of Trustees, My Sister’s Place, the Old Oaks Charity Foundation, and the Agatha Durland Foundation.
As the night moved on, STEER Advisors introduced and inducted 11 new student-athletes into the program from Port Chester High School, Palisade Preparatory School (Yonkers), and Careers in Sports High School (Bronx). These young people demonstrated commitment, desire, and the need to be involved in STEER programming. All 11 of the new students are paired with a STEER Advisor and receive individualized support services. These students join a community of over 100 STEER student-athletes who are either currently receiving services or have graduated from high school.
Amongst this incredible community are 4 STEER students who addressed the over 200 people in attendance at the event. Lesly Morocho, a senior at Port Chester High School spoke first and told us of the mindfulness jars she created through Advisory Council for Empowering Girls programming. Morocho says “we filled our jars with glitter in all different colors; the colors signified my destiny, my loves, my goals, and my confidence. When I shake the jar it also symbolizes everything STEER has the ability to do for me.”
Next up came Bryonna Truss, a junior at Palisade Preparatory School, who spoke with wisdom about the values of giving when she said, “Some people feel they need to give to others in hopes of karma blessing them in a good way. But giving is something that comes from within you. You’re supposed to give from your heart. Don’t give because you know good fortune is coming back your way. Give to make someone warm at night, or go to sleep at night without an empty stomach. We should all give to one another so we can all grow as one.”
Following Bryonna was Angel Leon, a junior at Careers in Sports High School, who gave an empowering and motivating address to the room. Leon said “Always remember that hard work triumphs all, and never stop working until you achieve your goals and everything you want in life. Always strive to be the best version of yourself.”
Last but certainly not least came Ashley Garcia, a sophomore at Port Chester High School, who spoke to her experiences at STEER and the importance of her family: “They have always had my back at every soccer game and through every injury. I am grateful to have such strong and hardworking parents and to have grown up with two older brothers who have taught me how to not let hard obstacles determine my faith. I am especially blessed to have had a brother who showed me to be a caring person and to help others. I will always keep that trait alive even if he might not be. I truly love every single one of my family members with all my heart.”
The students were followed by the night's keynote speaker, Tony Chiles. Chiles is a product of New York City, more specifically the Highbridge section of the Bronx. He attended All Hallows High School, where in addition to being the school’s valedictorian, he captained the Gaels to the New York State Championship his senior year. Chiles chose to take his talents to Columbia University after receiving many scholarship offers. He lettered in basketball for four years at the Ivy League institution, accumulating assists records that stand to this day, all the while also achieving academic status as a member of the Dean’s List.
After college, Chiles has actively been involved as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, mentor, and college coach. Over a 24 year span, he has coached at some of the nation’s most prominent institutions including, St. John’s, Tulane, Fordham, Iona, Drexel and Manhattan College.
Additionally, Tony is a central figure in the true-life tale depicted in his brother’s book; The Crack Era: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of Kevin Chiles. Tony continues to positively influence the lives of those he comes across and welcomes the opportunity to share his journey that has been filled with many lows amongst the highs, yet always viewed in an optimistic light of the promise we all possess.
The night ended with a raffle where students, families, and partners had the chance to win gift cards, a signed Edson Buddle soccer ball, and much more. Two STEER student-athletes from Palisade Preparatory won the nights grand prize, a 38-inch smart TV that was provided to STEER at no-cost!
An enormous thank you to the student-athletes, families, advisors, partners, staff, board, and donors who made this event possible! It is only with the support of these individuals that we are able to advance the mission while expanding our reach.
Click here to check out some pictures from the night!