2000-01-08 / Sports

Santa Visits Special Olympics

Athletes from the St. Camillus Special Olympics join with Santa.

By Joe Featherston

St. Camillus Special Olympics recently held its annual Christmas party. The athletes and their parents were treated to pizza, soda, candy, and homemade cookies.

John Hamilton donned his Santa gear and handed out hats, headbands, and stuffed animals to the athletes. Twenty-six athletes are now in the program and include: Terrence Burke, Patrick Carroll, Anthony Davis, John DiBartolomeo, Walter Ensor, Paul Fitzpatrick, James Flood, Eric Geisel, Javon Gardner, Jenny Gottlieb, Natasha Hines, Heather Huber, Emily Hutton, Julie Jackson, Amanda Lopez, Brian Moriarty, Timothy Mullally, Max Nagel, Kevin Nolan, Joseph Orban, Kevin Reilly, Thomas Ryan, Evan Russell, Erika Stringer, Patrick Tritschler, and Kurt Wagner. Each Monday night from 6:30 to 8:00, they practice their skills in basketball, soccer, touch football, floor hockey and board games. They also do 15 minutes of conditioning that includes jogging, relay races and weight training with light dumbbells.

A wonderful aspect of the Special Olympics program is the number of volunteer coaches it has attracted. Both the athletes and coaches enjoy their socialization together. The athletes really appreciate their coaches who are high school students and teach them sports skills each week. These coaches include: Brian Bagley, Matt and Peter Brady, jr., Danny Donohue, Ellenoira Featherston, John Gillespie, Greg Grosseto, Patricia McCabe, Danny Quinn, Sean Tubridy, Eric Heym, Jeff Hoinacki, and the five fabulous Stella Maris students: Kiera Duffy, Bernadette Heeran, Katie Grogan, Meggy Mulligan and Krista Ostrander.

The program has been blessed with very dedicated adult coaches since its inception. They look forward to playing with the athletes each Monday after their workday. They include: Peter Brady, sr., Peter Casey, Kathy Clarke, Christine Courtney, Joe Courtney, Maureen Featherston, Rich Grosseto, Patrick Higgins, Rose Gurry, Jim McVeigh, Kathy Mertz and Danielle Mullen.

Each week, the program is enlivened by numerous young participants who are relatives of the Special Olympics athletes or of the coaches. They run around all might with infectious enthusiasm. They are: Caitlin Murtagh, Bonnie Stringer, Sheamus, Hannah, and Rory Kirk, James Lopez and Martina, Shinann, Kilby, and Bard Featherston.

All the participants in the program would like to thank Father Dunne and Sister O’Neill of St. Camillus for their support. They also wholeheartedly thank all the program’s financial supporters, especially all who participated in the Rockaway Gliders’ Family Run or attended the summer fundraiser at Kelly’s on the Waterfront.

A winter fundraiser was recently held at Coppersmith’s Restaurant on 9 avenue and 53 street in Manhattan. It is owned by Rockaway residents, Jack Bradley, Ed Britt, Mike Andrews, Tommy Jackman, and Terry McVeigh, and the affair attracted many members of the extended Rockaway family who live in "The City", especially the McVeighs, Mullens, Colas, Egans, and Courtneys. The food and atmosphere were excellent. Thanks to Jim McVeigh and Joe Courtney for organizing this event.

Because of the success of these ventures, there is no fee for the athletes for any of the program’s activities, and these activities have become broader in scope. Upcoming events will include: a bus trip to watch a Hofstra University basketball game, a ski weekend at Windham Mountain, and a bus trip to Fordham University to compete in a basketball competition.

The program finally thanks Theresa and Ron Stringer and Chris and Cliff Russel for their generous Christmas gifts for the athletes and coaches.

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