The Rockaway Township Police Athletic League (RTPAL) is a not for profit organization that is dedicated to providing activities for special needs youth and their families. We call these activities the Challenger programs. For example in the fall we have Challenger Soccer and Challenger Cheerleading. We enlist student volunteers from the local high schools (the Morris Knolls soccer team is an example) to help assist as “buddies” for the special needs youth, our Challenger athletes.
In the winter we have Challenger Basketball along with the Cheerleading and Dance at Stony Brook Elementary school. We also have the Lift It Up program (at Morris Hills High School) where the Challenger athletes exercise and lift weights to get stronger. These programs are very popular and have been expanding. We do not limit the families due to the age or condition of the athlete. We also do not put restraints on where they come from. So many of our athletes come from outside of Rockaway Township.
Other activities include going to minor league baseball or NHL hockey games, Rutgers football games, a yearly trip to Dorney Park, and events like tubing down a river. We provide discounts for the families (athletes go free and transportation is provided). Although we have provided funds for many other programs that need financial assistance we keep our focus on the special needs athletes. The soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and Lift It Up program are successful due to the enthusiasm of the Challenger athletes and the “buddies” that come from the local high schools, Morris Hills and Morris Knolls.
Because of RTPAL the special needs athletes, their families, and the volunteers that help out, there is a bond that ties these groups together. All of us profit from this bond.