WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP, PA (Lehigh County) – St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Michael Ann & Saquon Barkley Hope Foundation are proud to announce today an historic partnership between the two organizations – Saquon Barkley’s first hometown charitable endeavor.
The St. Luke’s Sports Rink/Saquon Barkley Center of Excellence on 7th Street in Whitehall will bring about opportunities for underserved youth in the local community, focusing on physical activity, academics and life choices.
“It is an honor to partner my foundation with such a great staff dedicated to providing the best service possible to a community that will always feel like home to me,” Saquon Barkley said. “It was very important when making this decision to choose a team truly dedicated to their community, and with St. Luke’s, that dedication is clear.”
Tonya Johnson-Barkley, Saquon Barkley’s mother said, “This is really exciting. It is something positive and will provide good momentum moving forward. Everyone who is part of the Michael Ann & Saquon Barkley Foundation, and especially Saquon, is excited about this. I think partnering with an industry leader like St. Luke’s is a win-win situation for both parties.”
Barkley, the former Whitehall High School and Penn State University running back, was drafted No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft by the New York Giants and is entering his fifth NFL season. Whitehall retired his jersey number last fall.
This new partnership is designed to address the whole student, from athletics to academics, personal care and life choices utilizing the combined resources and name recognition of the Michael Ann & Saquon Barkley Hope Foundation and St. Luke’s.
“This is the first opportunity for Saquon to have a building named after him. Now he has the opportunity to fulfill the philanthropy he has been so looking forward to doing in the community by starting in his hometown of Whitehall, and that makes it extra special,” said George Makhoul, foundation board member and one of his former coaches at Whitehall.
“The importance of the naming is not just about athletic excellence,” said John Hauth, St. Luke’s Senior Network Administrator for Sports Medicine Relationships. “Saquon is a superior athlete, but one of the goals that clearly came through while talking with Saquon, his mother Tonya and other members of the foundation is that they want this to be about the whole person.”
In addition to providing St. Luke’s exceptional sports performance and fitness services, the goal is to provide services that include nutritional education as well as homework and after-school tutoring opportunities to address the whole child, so children become better athletes, better students and better human beings engaged with their community in a positive way.
While the initial relationship will include the naming of the Whitehall facility, the goal is to spread some of the key initiatives to other St. Luke’s facilities that can reach into underserved communities including, but not limited to, the underserved areas of Allentown.