First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. is donating $500,000 to underwrite the summer 2010 Empire State Games and promote the long-term financial viability of New York State’s annual Winter Games, Senior Games, Games for the Physically Challenged and Summer Games.
“First Niagara is focused on helping families and businesses across New York State achieve their hopes, dreams and personal aspirations,” said John R. Koelmel, president and chief executive officer of the community-oriented bank holding company serving customers across Upstate New York and Pennsylvania. “The Games are vital to the fabric of our State and an excellent outlet for local and regional competitors to showcase their skills, and we are committed to going above and beyond to keep the full slate of state-wide competitions on solid financial footing for years to come. Much like our Mentoring Matters program, our investment in the Games will positively impact and nurture the skills and talents of young people across New York State in order for them to reach their full potential.”
First Niagara’s donation represents half of the funds necessary for this year’s $1 million Empire State Games private fundraising goal announced by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation officials in September 2009. The Summer Games were not held during 2009 due to budgetary reasons. The financial impact of the Games is significant. It is estimated that the Empire State Games will generate close to $15 million dollars for the Western New York community.
“When we decided to restore the summer Empire State Games in 2010, we were keenly aware of the need to secure private funding from corporate entities conducting business in New York State,” said Carol Ash, State Parks Commissioner, “The willingness of First Niagara to standout amid the crowd is a shining example of their dedication to the residents and youth athletes of the State and is the springboard for sustaining the flame of the Games for the foreseeable future.”
At this morning’s news conference held at First Niagara’s corporate Headquarters at the Larkin and Exchange building, Koelmel was joined by local Buffalo Niagara 2010 Summer Games committee co-chairs Jack Quinn, President of Erie Community College, and John Simpson, President of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he issued a local, regional and state-wide challenge to public and private corporate entities to join in the mission of saving the Games.
Next week, Koelmel and Quinn will be hosting a special leader’s luncheon in Buffalo and at that time will encourage other local CEOs to join the challenge. They will also take their message to regional businesses across the state in order to keep the tradition of the Games alive for many years to come.
Established more than 32 years ago, the Hugh L. Carey Empire State Games include the Summer Games, Winter Games, Senior Games and Games for the Physically Challenged, and are the foundation for grassroots amateur sports competitions in the United States. The Empire State Games is a program of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, a member of the National Congress of State Games, and recognized by the United States Olympic Committee.
New York State Parks raises private funds to support the Games through its affiliated public benefit corporation, the Natural Heritage Trust. Donations to support the Empire State Games can be made by visiting New York State Parks website.
Entry image by Marcus Yam