Olympians discuss how Toledo PAL program made them better athletes

Olympians discuss how Toledo PAL program made them better athletes

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Zia Cooke is the one of the best point guards in the country, and Jared Anderson is ranked the number one boxer - Both of these young athletes are from Toledo and have the Police Athletic League to thank for helping them!

Cooke picked up a basketball at the PAL gym when she was in fifth grade. Anderson began boxing with PAL when he was just 9 years old.

Now, after being youth Olympians, they are dreaming of being part of The U.S. Olympic team.

Cooke is just back from playing with USA U16 national basketball team, and Anderson is set to jet off to Germany to compete with USA youth men's boxing team. They are humbled by the recognition they are receiving from TPS, TPD and the city.

"I can't believe they all came out for me and to honor me it is truly a great blessing to be able to do this. I'm real thankful for all of it," said Cooke.

But they are thanking The Toledo Police Department and the Police Athletic league or PAL Program that helped to get them to this level.

"It most definitely gave me an extra boost and it helped me to stay on track and have stayed with me," said Anderson.

Anderson and Cooke were once like the kids currently in PAL who are choosing school and athletics over the street.

Now they are still current PAL members still working towards bigger dreams while inspiring others.

"Always work hard never give up put your all into everything you do and anything is possible," Cooke added.

The Toledo-Lucas County Police Athletic League was formed in the 1950s when Sergeant Buddy Carr began to teach boxing to at-risk youth in Toledo. With the help of five full-time employees and a myriad of volunteers, the program teaches boxing, operates basketball and baseball leagues. It also runs the Toledo Police Explorer Post and is in partnership with the Toledo Technology Academy in fielding a Lego Robotic team.

Nearly 350 kids are involved in the program. Learn more about it here.

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