2005-06-10 / Sports

Special Olympics Honor Fantastic End To Eighth Season

By Joe Featherston

As the eighth season of Monday night sports activities approaches its ending in late June, the St. Camillus Special Olympics Program looks forward to upcoming activities and celebrates some of the highlights of the year so far. There are now forty-eight athletes on the program’s register and they are presently enjoying playing softball with their volunteer coaches in the schoolyard. They’ll see firsthand how their skills compare with the professionals when they travel to Keyspan Park on June 27th to see the Cyclones play.

On the previous Saturday, they’ll be treated to a boatride in New York Harbor and a barbeque at the Verona Boat Club on Emmons Ave in Sheepshead Bay. In July, they’ll attend a fundraiser for them and a Salute to the Wounded Warriors at the Mullen’s residence and also run the Graybeards’ Family Run. In addition, twelve of the athletes and their families will travel to the Adaptive Sports Foundation at Windham Mountain for their first summer visit.  They’ will all enjoy two days of hiking, swimming and horseback riding. 

Looking back on the just completed 8th season, there were many highlights. Twenty-four athletes traveled to Hofstra University by chartered bus like an N.B.A. team and played a full-court basketball game at halftime of the Hofstra versus University of North Carolina - Wilmington game.  Their Hofstra hosts, especially the Director of Marketing, made them feel special. 

The fans, including about 200 Rockaway residents, cheered their every move. The practice paid off as they then traveled to Fordham University where they won the gold medal in their four team bracket in the New York State Special Olympics Metro Games. The Fordham students who were the volunteer referees, chaperones and organizers did a terrific job. 

Twenty athletes, along with their coaches, families and friends traveled to the Adaptive Sports Foundation for a weekend of skiing. They were treated on Friday to a night of tubing courtesy of Rita and Flip Mullen, to two days of skiing with volunteer instructors from the Foundation and then a gala awards buffet dinner at the local church hall. This annual weekend event has grown so that over 100 people now join in the fun. The athletes thank Rita and Flip for all their organizing skills.

One of the program’s volunteer coaches, Susan Brady, held a pre-parade bagel and hot chocolate party before the athletes proudly marched down Newport Avenue wearing their green in the Queens County St. Patrick’s Parade. They appreciate the warm applause they receive each year along the parade route. Afterwards, Beth-Ann and Patrick Featherston held their annual raffle for the Special Olympics at their post parade party.  This year, the prizes were authentic paintings donated by the Rockaway Artist Alliance: Michael Tubridy, Kaylin and Kevin Callahan and Geoff Rawlings. On the next day, many of the same athletes danced the afternoon away at the St. Camillus St. Patrick’s Dance.In the spring, they presented awards to two of their favorite volunteer coaches, Rose Gurry and Kathy Clarke, who retired respectively from the Department of Education and St. John’s Hospital.

In order for the athletes and their families to partake in all of the above activities, they rely on the generosity of many people. They sincerely thank the Rockaway community that avidly sponsors them. In particular, they thank their volunteer coaches and Father Dunne of St. Camillus who provides their weekly venue. They thank The Saloon Restaurant on York Avenue and East 83rd St. which recently held a fundraiser for the program that was put together through the super solitary efforts of Meghan Courtney. 

Much appreciation for their generosity goes to Terrence Tubridy, the manager of The Saloon, to Dee Tubridy of Metro 53 who donated all the food, to DJ Trish Tubridy, to Annie Egan and Jeanne Marie Murphy who donated all their tips as guest bartenders and to all the nice people who donated prizes for the raffle that Kilby Featherston sold tickets for. Again, the program thanks all of its Rockaway friends. Come down and see the athletes play softball on Monday nights.   

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