Winner declared in fundraising contest Detroit News Cheer for Charity

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

After donors responded, The Detroit News Holiday Cheer for Charity event campaign closed Wednesday with a winner.

Detroit PAL, an organization dedicated to connecting the Detroit Police Department with the city's youth for academic, athletic and leadership development programming, raised $73,675. It will be given an additional $20,000 as the top finisher in the contest for a total of nearly $100,000.

A scrimmage in 2019 for  PAL youth league teams at The Corner Ballpark. PAL celebrated its 50th anniversary later that year.

"It is thrilling; it is humbling. During the holidays you are already grateful, but it brings tears to your eyes when you see people that believe in the organization and believe in our youth," said Detroit PAL CEO Robert Jamerson.

More:At 50, Detroit PAL League keeps up work to 'empower youth'

The money raised will go toward expanding the youth initiatives the organization has established, Jamerson said. 

"Any time you have funding that can go across all the different programs ... we also have our youth enrichment programs that many are just starting to see the impact that we have," he said. "From broadcast journalism to our STEM and drones programs and then our empowerment series with our Girls Change the Game initiatives."

Second place Detroit Dog Rescue raised $31,046; Freedom House raised $5,090; Mercy Education Project raised $4,345, and COTS pulled in $1,000.

Each of the nonprofits will keep the money raised during the campaign, which began Nov. 17 with 11 charities in the contest. . 

"All of the charities that were listed — I couldn't think of anything that's not a meaningful cause or that people can't rally behind," Jamerson said. "For a nonprofit to have unrestricted dollars that can be used as they meet the needs, it's just awesome."

Jamerson encourages youth and families to check outprogramming and volunteer opportunities at detroitpal.org

"I start with volunteering before giving because I think when people come out and see the work that we do, you can't help but become a part of it and want to do more," he said.

Dytarious Edwards, coach of the 11U Detroit Rangers, talks with his team before a Police Athletic League scrimmage in 2019 against the YMCA Tigers at The Corner Ballpark.

The organization says that each year, it trains nearly 2,000 volunteers to work as coaches or with its youth sports programming. Detroit PAL runs 11 sports programs in addition to its STEM activities, youth enrichment, financial literacy workshops and other efforts.

One of its most well-known efforts is at The Corner Ballpark where the storied Tiger Stadium once stood. Detroit PAL was awarded the site in 2015 and broke ground in 2016. It opened for PAL team play, as well as for other sports, in spring 2018. The Corner Ballpark — whose playing surface is named the Willie Horton Field of Dreams — opened nearly 20 years after the Tigers last played there, and nearly 10 years after the last, blue bricks came tumbling down.