Craig Bergamo: Westport Kids’ Best PAL

Craig Bergamo has quite a back story.

He grew up “everywhere,” he says — in and out of shelters. He and his brother were shuttled from place to place.

When Bergamo was 17, his parents died. He wanted to join the military, but for his brother to keep Section 8 housing, Bergamo had to live there as his dependent.

During tough times, police officers had always been nice to Bergamo. He looked up to them. To give back, he studied criminology in college.

Craig Bergamo

In 2006 — just 22 years old — he was hired by the Westport Police Department. His duties include overseeing the car seat program, motorcycle instructor and field training.

Bergamo won the Medal of Valor, for his actions in the Westport force’s first shooting in 30 years.

He also earned a Community Service Award for his fundraising with LivFree, a pediatric cancer support group.

Giving back is a key part of who Bergamo is. He coached in Norwalk’s Pop Warner football program for 6 years.

Early in his Westport police career, PAL athletic director Carmen Roda suggested he get involved with the local program. He became head football coach for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, then volunteered as secretary and vice president.

Now he’s in charge of the entire Westport PAL.

Earlier this month, Bergamo succeeded Ned Batlin as president.

It’s a big job. PAL serves thousands of youngsters through football, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, rugby, track and cheerleading programs.

PAL also runs a robust scholarship program, the ice skating rink at Longshore — and Westport’s annual Independence Day fireworks.

Plenty of (pre-COVID) action at the PAL Rink at Longshore.

“This is an amazing organization,” Bergamo says. “The motto is ‘All about the kids and community.’ It’s safe and friendly. There are not many Police Athletic Leagues still out there. But ours is going strong.”

Bergamo is already planning new fundraising efforts — like a car show, digital events, perhaps a gala “when things are normal.”

Wrestling is one of Westport PAL’s many programs.

For someone who grew up in shelters, and lost his parents as a teenager, offering hope and activities to youngsters is crucial. In addition to his PAL efforts, he coaches his daughters in softball.

“When I see 3rd graders I coached move up to high school, and then graduate. I get chills,” Bergamo says. “I’ve had great interactions with them, and their parents. That’s what PAL is all about.”

(To learn more about Westport PAL — and participate in the See’s Candy Shop fundraiser — click here.)

10 responses to “Craig Bergamo: Westport Kids’ Best PAL

  1. Craig and his brother coached our twin boys’ 3rd grade Westport PAL football team in 2016. We could not have asked for better coaches and role models for our boys. Since then, they have loved seeing “Coach Craig” around town. He always greets us with warmth and kindness, stopping to chat and asking about the family. Westport PAL is in great hands.

  2. Wishing Craig all the best as the new head of PAL. Nicest guy who truly cares about our town, our kids and our families. And if you see a cop on a motorcycle around town, give a wave. It’s probably him!

  3. Great story about a great guy! Wspt. PAL is a great organization and I encourage all to please support them..

  4. Karin Giannitti

    He is someone to be proud of. Great man and a great officer. Westport should be very proud to have him.

  5. Jo Shields Sherman

    What a great guy! Nice article too.

  6. Congratulations on becoming President of PAL ,great working with Ned for several years and now looking forward to new fund raising events and more

  7. Congratulations Craig!! Good luck!!

  8. Deacon Jim Brown

    Congratulations to a great guy!! Your caring for others does not surprise me. You are an asset and blessing to the community that you serve well.

    God Bless you and keep you safe.

  9. So proud of Craig! He is truly the best! What a role model to his own daughters and all the people he comes in contact with in Westport! You are lucky to have him to represent you. Finally a positive story about our policemen!

  10. Keith Lombardo

    Just awesome! Craig, congrats! You are a class act. We are lucky to have you in your new roll.