Community Race/Walk Raises Money for Students in Need 

By Amanda Moses

On October 23rd, the Starrett City Judo Club, Legros Sports and in conjunction with Operation Compassion, hosted a walk/run to help raise money to purchase tools for students in need. The race began promptly at 9am outside of the Brooklyn Sports Club’s basketball courts at 1540 Van Siclen Avenue, and continued all around the community through Pennsylvania Avenue.

Outside of the basketball courts, a giant banner was raised with the words, “Operation Compassion 2022 Brooklyn” where runners donned yellow shirts and awaited the start of the race.  Starrett Judo Coach, Parnell Legros, climbed upon a ladder and pressed onto a handheld air horn to get racers on their way.

For decades, the Starrett City Judo Club has produced well-rounded champions who have been instilled with the importance of kindness, volunteerism, and an overall outlook that humans are meant to give back to their community.  Legros believes that such endeavors should be promoted on and off the mat, which is why he decided to host a community effort at Spring Creek Towers.  The walk will be the first annual event of its kind, and he hopes will continue to support students throughout the years. 

Tommy and Rachelle, parents of running participants Jordan, 24, and Naomi, 14, have always been impressed by the stellar judo programming developed by Coach Legros, so much so they consider it to be an extension of their family.  So, when they learned about the race, and its work to help those in need, they joined their children in assisting in this effort.

“It’s something we support because it’s all about getting people to be active and to support the idea of just community. I mean, this community has been nothing but sweet and giving back to it is nice,” Tommy said.

Nodding in agreement, Rachelle also adds that since the COVID-19 pandemic, her family has learned to come to appreciate outdoor and group events more than ever.

“Judo is such a family, which makes everything come from the heart. It’s with joy that we can give back to the community and we are thankful to be included,” Rachelle said.

Judo literally means the gentle way; it is a modern form of Japanese martial arts with the main objective to turn an opponent’s force against them utilizing it to the judoka’s advantage.  Legros takes this form of martial arts and uses it to instruct his students on life, teaching them to be calm and ready to face any issue with confidence both on and off the mat.  However, Legros stresses that judo students are not just members of a sports team, but individuals representing their community.

Krystal Pena has been a staunch supporter of the Starrett Judo Club, especially since her two children JJ and Kelsey Billups have actively competed in tournaments and courses for several years under the tutelage of Coach Legros.

“It was important to participate in events like this because we want to set precedent so that we can continue to do this and make it bigger and bigger each year. Even after our children, maybe move on from the Starrett City Judo Club, they may want to come back and contribute and donate and be a part of the organization that Legros has led so it’s important for them to be involved in the race because this is for them. So, it’s important all around,” Pena said.

The race culminated with the top three male and female winners receiving small gold medals.

Photos by Amanda Moses

Amanda Moses