PHILADELPHIA - The Police Athletic League (PAL) of Philadelphia held it’s annual awards dinner and fundraiser last night and honored three business leaders for their dedication and commitment to the ongoing efforts of PAL.
One of those recipients was Flyers President and Chief Operating Officer of Comcast-Spectacor and Global Spectrum Chairman Peter Luukko.
He was feted at the largest fundraiser in the 66-year history of the PAL organization along with Mary Stengel Austen, the President of communications giant Tierney, and Ron Rabena, Division President of National Security Operations for Allied Barton Security Services.
The 46th annual dinner, which was attended by more than 1,500 people, was held at the Sheraton Hotel on Franklin Plaza.
“It’s a pleasure to be honored,” Luukko said. “Our organization and Comcast-Spectacor has supported PAL for many, many years. Our past honorees – and I’m humbled to be one of them – Fred Shable, Ed Snider, Brian Roberts and David Cohen – it’s amazing what they have done for PAL and I’ve had the opportunity to follow up.”
Other previous honorees with connections to Philadelphia sports include Ruly Carpenter, Bill Giles, David Montgomery and Ruben Amaro, Jr. of the Phillies, Leonard Tose, Dick Vermeil and Jeremiah Trotter of the Eagles, Fitz Dixon and Julius Erving of the 76ers and of course Snider and Bob Clarke of the Flyers.
Among those in attendance for the award presentation was Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren as well as Luukko's family, including his son Nick, a Flyers' prospect currently playing defense at the University of Vermont.
Luukko has been involved with several PAL events, including meeting with groups of kids touring the Wells Fargo Center before a Flyers game, but he said his most memorable PAL moment came when he joined Flyers Ambassador of Hockey Bob Kelly on a “Hooked on Hockey” expedition to the Paley PAL location on Germantown Ave.
“PAL is an oasis,” Luukko said. “It’s a place to go and just have fun. You let it go and just enjoy yourself and have a great time. It’s education too. It’s not all athletics. It’s educating children too.
“Then you see the teamwork and learning to work as a team. And it’s about competition. It’s not about winning and losing but how you compete and respect your competition. That’s so important not just in athletics but in life. Put that all together, and you have PAL.”
Luukko said he and Kelly specifically got a kick out of seeing kids who had never played hockey before, “get it” when it came to stickhandling, or scoring a goal, or making a pass that resulted in a goal. It reminded him of the most important aspect of the PAL programs.
“If there is one thought I can leave you with it’s we have got to mentor,” Luukko said toward the end of his speech. “Everybody in this room has been mentored at one time or another. It’s your mom or dad or your favorite uncle. It’s a police officer. It’s a teacher, a coach. It’s somebody that was close to you. Everyone in this room can say, ‘I could never thank so-and-so enough for how they mentored me.’
“You always say, ‘how can I pay them back? I can never pay them back.’ Here’s how you pay them back – you mentor somebody else. It’s not about money or success. Paying them back is helping somebody in their formative years fulfill their dreams and find success.”
Prior to his speech, a video presentation paying tribute to Luukko and his involvement with PAL was shown on the two big screens in the Liberty Ball Room.
In it, there were several testimonials from Flyers and Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider, Vice Chairman Fred Shabel and Comcast executive vice president David Cohen.
But, perhaps the most telling comments came from Richard Miller, President and CEO of Virtua ,one of Comcast-Spectacor’s closest business partners.
“What’s interesting about Peter is, what you get with him in a business relationship is what you get from him in a personal relationship,” Miller said. “He’s the same guy whether you are having a glass of wine with him or you are discussing a business partnership with him.”
Or, as several kids in the PAL program found out, if you’re playing street hockey with him too.
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