For many kids, the Police Athletic League provides a new life experience, and the Aiken Department of Public Safety is asking the community to support the program through the Blue Night event on Friday, Aug. 15.


The sports league, commonly known as PAL, is administered through Public Safety and PAL director, LaLita Ashley.


“This is our only fundraiser,” she said. “We used to receive grants, but the fundraiser is how we exist to provide football and basketball equipment and travel for our track teams.”


The event will be held at Citizens Park in Aiken – starting with a 1-mile fun run at 7 p.m., followed by a 5K run and walk at 7:30 p.m.


In addition to the three activities, PAL will wrap up the race with family activities at the park.


The League was established to provide athletic and recreational activities – specifically for children ages 6 through 12, who may not qualify for traditional sports programs. The goal of PAL is to improve the quality of life for children living in the City of Aiken.


Ashley took a boy and a girl – both 8 years old – to a Junior Olympics tournament over the weekend. Each competed in shot put events.


“They hugged each other afterward,” Ashley said. “That’s what we do in PAL – teaching kids about sportsmanship, how to be team players and how values you can learn from sports (can help in life).”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.