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K-Rob Rallies Community to Save His Hometown's Sports

The BMX professional urges East Providence residents to unite to save the city's middle school sports programs slated for elimination.

Kevin Robinson has been chosen as The Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day for March 7. You can read about past honorees here.

Down at the in East Providence, serious business was afoot last Wednesday. In the childcare center, residents brainstormed ways to , which is one of several proposed budget cuts in our waterfront community that's saddled with millions of dollars worth of reoccurring debt.

Seated in plastic chairs suited for their pint-sized counterparts, the meeting's attendees were in no mood to play around. 

"As with any battle, you want to start off strong," said Jonathan Pangborn, a local club soccer coach. Pangborn added that a united front should make a compelling point to members of the budget commission, the holding the city's purse strings. 

The man behind the groundswell is BMX professional Kevin Robinson, also known by his moniker, K-Rob. The vert rider is famed for his accolades, including two gold medals won in the 2006 X Games. 

Robinson and his wife, Robin, are both East Providence natives and attended the city's public schools. They moved to Barrington, a neighboring community, to raise a young family. But when they heard their hometown's athletic programs were on the chopping block, they couldn't sit back and watch. 

"I don't think [the budget commission] is thinking of the repercussions...You can't keep taking away from kids who don't have a voice," Robinson said, adding that he thinks property values will dip as the quality of city schools decline. 

Robinson's non-profit, The K-Rob Foundation, is backing efforts to help defray the $106,000 needed to fund the programs. The biggest event: the second-annual Family Fun Day to be held on May 20 at Pierce Field in East Providence.

"It's about awareness," he said. "The city needs to unite to solve this problem."

The foundation primarily raises funds to pay students' athletic fees separate from city-paid costs. But he anticipates a booth will be dedicated to the middle school sports crusade. Jamie Silva, a NFL player and East Providence native, is also adding some star power to the event.

But until then, Robinson aims to keep the community focused on the prize and continue to rally without delving into the negative. He also urges politicians to leave behind personal agendas for the sake of the children.

"Any past problems you've had with anybody, it's time to put everything aside, be adults and move forward," he said.

During the meeting, members pledged to attend public budget hearings, petition local legislators and write members of the media. Many wore red and white sweatshirts, a visual nod to the city's slogan: "Townie Pride."

"I love seeing the community come together and everyone unite—not only the city of East Providence but the state of Rhode Island," Robinson said. "We're the people that vote...It's important for us to voice our opinions."

Robinson met with Budget Commission Chairman Michael O'Keefe and two state staffers Monday morning. He said the conversation was "fabulous."

"They want to keep sports just as much as everyone does. Unfortunately they have a job to do," he said after the meeting. "Right now we're trying to come up with ideas."

He also made a showing at last Thursday's budget commission meeting. 

"I hope that people can look beyond the controversy and politics," Robinson said. "I hope they can look into their hearts."

According to Robinson, if anyone visits during the month of March from 3 to 6 p.m., price of admission will be donated to saving middle school sports programs.

Sandra Letizia March 07, 2012 at 05:50 PM
As I was saying they should be ashamed of themselves for either knowing what would happen down the road or they were simply incompetent,and for that items like Middle school sports and other services may be cut. Thanks goodness for folks like Kevin Robonson and others were care for the right reasons. Good luck to them!
Rumford Resident March 07, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Again, I am not disparaging Keven Robinson or folks who are trying to solve for this. What I am doing is challenging those elected officials who seem to want it both ways. They show up at these meetings, pay lip service to these parents, but don't come forward with any specific ideas to address the issues. As for the prior school committee, I think they were quite public in terms of what they were doing. If the Bradley partnership is so bad, why is the Budget Commission and the Ed Commissioner (GIST) saying it is a model for the state. This school committee didn't cut the checks. And the Budget Commission confirmed that it saves money vs. what was done before. Also, it is Tsonos who keeps claiming (before he was elected and now) that he knows of all of this waste and fat in admin. If he does, he needs to prove it. Talk is cheap. I feel for these parents and these kids. We already pay a lot in taxes. The fact that we need to have a bake sale or a race to raise money for sports is absurd. And those who are in office have been absolute failures.
James Durfee March 08, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I don't recall hearing much from this crew when they slashed textbooks and supplies...It shows where their values are.
Arthur Dolloff March 10, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Rumford You hit that one on the head. There was no outrage when they cut books and supplies, maybe because there is no vicarious gratification in winning a spelling bee or acing a history test.
Robert Gagnon March 11, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Sandra This school committee stopped paying Bradley, this school committee stopped all payment to meeting street school, this school committee passed a budget with 7 million dollars of additional spending over last year which brought the deficit from 6.2 million to 13.9 million dollars. This school committee turned the problem into a special education issue. This school committee ran knowing full well about the deficit and elected to make it worse, they ran fully understanding and campaigning about the state of the school finances.

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