Education

Kentucky celebrity golf scramble Friday will help raise money for youth mentoring program

Former UK football player Ron Mack, executive director of Lexington PAL on Friday August 14, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison
Former UK football player Ron Mack, executive director of Lexington PAL on Friday August 14, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison Herald-Leader

Ronald Mack is on a quest to help as many children as possible.

He was raised in a Lexington housing project, Bluegrass-Aspendale. He played sports at Castlewood Park and went on to play football for the University of Kentucky in the 1980s.

Mack, who had a career in banking in Atlanta before moving back home, attributes the majority of his success to a former mentor and baseball coach, a Lexington police officer.

"He would talk to me in a way that at that point I really didn't understand," he said. "He thought really highly of me, not only as a baseball player but also as a person. He told me about things I can potentially do. He used the phrase, 'Cream of the crop rises to the top.' ... Coming from an authority figure like a police sergeant really impacted me, and it always stayed with me."

Now Mack, executive director of the Lexington Police Athletic/Activities League, is on a quest to expand the organization's outreach, including a capital fundraising campaign as it approaches its 30th anniversary.

The organization wants to help kids with their academics and expose them to performing arts at the Lyric Theatre and the equine industry.

PAL is a youth crime-prevention program that employs athletic, educational and recreational programs to establish trust and understanding between police officers and youth.

The organization started in 1915 in New York as a way to show youth an alternative to criminal behavior. Lexington's PAL unit was established in 1985 with a group of off-duty officers who donated their time.

Currently, PAL has three officers assigned to the organization and reaches about 500 kids a month through programming. It offers sports programs and mentoring to teach children self-respect, and respect for authority and life skills.

A capital campaign to support Lexington's PAL program is set to kick off at 4 p.m. Friday with the UK Celebrity Golf Scramble at Kearney Hill Golf Links.

The fundraiser will help pay for the organization's programming, including educational trips.

"PAL is for all kids," Mack said, "because all kids have circumstances that aren't just economic driven. ... I want to pull more than just those kids that want to play ball. I want to pull in kids who have talents that they don't even know they have."

  Comments