No matter what you may think about online sports betting venues, they are being put to good use locally by funding youth development initiatives, Genesee County Youth Bureau Director Daniel Calkins says.
The Youth Sports Education Fund, garnered from portions of online sports betting proceeds, has so far meant $16,787 for youth-related activities, with about $5,000 of that going for the purchase of 71 pairs of funky 80s-themed rollerskates, Calkins said.
“I was talking to (ice rink operator) Matt Gray and he said they were having trouble getting skates for the ice rink,” Calkins said Friday. “So we set up a program that if a youth goes there, they pay the $5 admission and can use the skates for free.”
The neon-colored skates, meant to be low-maintenance and long-lasting, were purchased from RC Sports out of Kansas, in a range of children’s and adult sizes. They will be available for rent or free for youth at the David M. McCarthy Ice Arena on Evans Street in Batavia.
“We promote that to give kids greater access to recreational activities,” Calkins said. “We will be having events throughout the summer. And during ice season, it will be the same. If a kid comes in to ice skate, they’ll get to use the ice skates for free. The ice rink has been wonderful, our family game night was the kick-off to the skates being there.
“It’s about making Genesee County more accessible to having fun things to do,” he said. “We want to be an active part in the change here.”
That total funding also went toward kayaks to be used at DeWitt Recreational Area on Cedar Street and to help restore the financial loss suffered by the Athletic Youth Soccer Organization in Oakfield during the pandemic, Calkins said.
Genesee County receives a nine-month allocation, and “hopefully, we get the same funding next year,” Calkins said.
The Youth Sports Education Fund goes to the county’s general fund and is then disbursed to the Youth Bureau, County Manager Matt Landers said.
“The intent is definitely to be as impactful to county youth and families as possible,” Landers said “Daniel is continually looking for positive activities for families in Genesee County.”
Answering The Batavian about whether he has tried out the new skates. “I have not tried them because I don't want to embarrass my kids!”
If you’re interested in trying them out, the McCarthy has an open family skate night from 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday.