2008-02-15 / Sports

St.Camillus Special Olympians Take The Waterwoman/Waterman Challenge

"There are no disabilities on Biscayne Bay!" This is the inscription carved into a brick at Shake-A-Leg, Miami. The Rockaway Beach Special Athletics traveled to Miami for a long weekend of nautical adventure at Shake-A-Leg.

Shake-A-Leg, Miami is a non profit organization which helps children and adults with special needs acquire aquatic skills, free of charge. Harry Hogan, the founder of this facility, had just finished college when he was involved in a terrible accident, which left his legs paralyzed.

Hogan was a sailor as a boy and refused to relinquish this athletic aspect to his life. Within a year he was back in a boat. Hogan says: "I wanted to do this for others." Hence, Shake-A-Leg was born.

The Rockaway Beach Special Athletics had a grand time at Shake-A-Leg. Each morning they did warm- up exercises. Then, down to the sea! On day one after breakfast at Shake-A-Leg, the athletes, families and coaches embarked on a huge catamaran in Biscayne Bay. The captain and narrator showed the participants some of beauties of the bay and told them of its ecology.

Lunch was eaten on the catamaran, then the athletes, coaches and parents jumped into Biscayne Bay to enjoy an inflatable raft, boogie boards, etc. A barbeque dinner was hungrily eaten at Shake-A-Leg. The cooking was done by Ed Carroll and Frank Sena. All of the adults helped with serving and clean up.

On day two, the athletes were divided into three groups. Each group did kayaking, sailing or sailing on a dinghy, both in the morning and the afternoon. Lunch with Cuban flair was outstanding. Dinner had an Italian flair that was even better.

On day three the schedule was much the same, so all of the participants could enjoy each challenge and where the parents clandestinely sailed out to watch their children. The parents were as overjoyed as the athletes.

On Sunday, the last day, everyone went to Seaquariam for dolphin and sea lion shows. They also saw a huge whale. In the evening, everyone had a delightful dinner at Monty's. On Monday, they made their way back to New York.

Flip Mullen had taken the Wounded Warriors to Shake-A-Leg and thought it was a fine idea for the Special Athletics group. Christine Parchment took up the lead and, after many months of planning, research and hard work on her part, the group was on its way. Her planning was perfect in every detail; including individual itineraries for every athlete.

Mullen arrived at Shake-A-Leg before the group did, and made sure all the arrangements were perfect.

Kathy Clarke was there with her camera capturing each moment with her artistic eye. She also organized and kept things running smoothly. Since Clarke could not be everywhere, Ed Carroll, also with an artistic eye, took care of the additional Kodak moments.

Dan Gorry was the behind the scenes, tireless worker. He cleaned up and went on errands. Jim McVeigh, as always, helped in all events and charmed the participants with his wit. Susan Brady also charmed them with her water ballet.

The athletes loved the pool antics. Rose Gurry was so weak from laughing that she was useless. Joe Featherston, group director, had to cancel at the last moment because his son was ill. Joe, Maureen and Joseph were missed.

The Waterwomen were: Mary Kate Gorry, Heather Huber, Emily Hutton, Salena Lanza, Alana McCarthy, Kirsten McMahon, Colette Rup, Leanise Salas and Elizabeth Sena. Salas became ill and could not participate in the activities.

She was missed as well.

The Watermen were: Patrick Carroll, Paul DeVincenzo, John DiBartolomeo, Daniel Dory, Paul Fitzpatrick, Kevin Manning, Timothy Mullally, Joseph Orban, Jeffrey Resnick, Thomas Ryan, Patrick Tritschler and Kurt Wagner.

Special Athletics bids, HASTA LA VISTA, SHAKE-A-LEG!

The Rockaway Beach Special Athletics/ St. Camillus Special Olympics participants and parents thank the community for its generous support that allows them to enjoy all these eye-opening experiences.

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