2009-07-10 / Sports

Special Olympians Have Busy Spring

By Joe Featherston and Rose Gurry

On May 9, the St. Camillus Special Olympians went to Victory Field to compete in a track and field event. Volunteer students from St. Francis Prep High School and volunteer men from various motorcycle clubs directed the athletes and made the events flow smoothly for the day.

The day began with opening ceremonies which consisted of athletes running around the track with the traditional Olympic torch. The National Anthem was sung and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Our New York State Assemblywoman, Audrey I. Pheffer, was present and showed her support for our athletes who were awarded several medals and ribbons for their achievements. Evan Russel won one gold and one silver; Paul Fitzpatrick, one gold and one silver; Jeffrey Resnick, Terence Burke, John DeBartolomeo and Amanda Seward each won two gold medals; Emily Hutton, one gold and one silver; Heather Huber captured two gold; Tyrei Duncan, Nicole Figueroa and Patrick Tritschler each won two silver medals.

On Monday evening, May 18, the athletes had a very unique experience. A United States Secret Service Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge came to St. Camillus for an unusual presentation. In the gym, everyone viewed a short film on the history and responsibilities of the Secret Service. Alana McCarthy presented each athlete with a Junior Secret Service Agent Certificate and a presidential photo. When the athletes went outside into the schoolyard they saw a shiny black, armored limousine bearing the Presidential Seal and flags. All the athletes got a chance to sit inside the limo to feel the comfort and safety of the vehicle.

The gang also got a chance to meet Daisy, a bomb sniffing dog. Daisy was so gentle and friendly and wagged her tail constantly. An amazing dog! As a finale the limo toured the schoolyard with lights, sirens and flags waving. We thank the United States Secret Service volunteers for demonstrating how President Obama is safely guarded.

On Friday, May 29 a sizable number of our group went to a Met game at the spanking new Citifield. To top off the excitement, the Mets won in the 11th inning.

On Monday, June 22, we had our end of season party at the Tap and Grill restaurant. We had a grand evening. We all enjoyed a delicious hot buffet. The athletes received their 2009 sportsmanship medals. They were delighted to view photos of themselves in a slide show courtesy of Bob Leckie. Kathy Clarke took more photos for our archives. The hard-working staff of the Tap and Grill consisted of Lynne Washburn, Lisa Ott, Laurie Adamovitch, Christine Donohue, John Mooney, Raul Estrade, Aislinn Fitzgerald and Denis Cook. Thanks to Andy Cholakis, proprietor of the Tap and Grill, for his hospitality.

On Saturday, June 27, the athletes and their families were treated to a day-long outing at the Varona Boat Club on Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay. Members of the club, under the direction of Mike Coyne, took the athletes out in fishing boats into New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Several of the athletes caught fish highlighted by Kevin Manning reeling in a small shark.

The boat club then treated our party to a barbeque lunch and allowed the athletes to frolic in the club pool. They were all then given Verona Boat Club cooler bags as gifts. Everyone is grateful to the boat club for this annual outing.

On Tuesday, June 30, the athletes traveled by bus to the new Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees beat the Mariners. They were excited to be joined there by six athletes from a group home in Brooklyn, who join us at St. Camillus on Monday nights throughout the year.

As the St. Camillus Special Olympics/ Rockaway Beach Special Athletics program concludes its 12th year, we want to thank Fathers Ahlemeyer and Dunne who support us with the use of the St. Camillus facilities each Monday night from September through June.

We also thank the Rockaway Community for its generous support which allows our Special Olympians to partake in all the activities that they enjoy so much. In addition, we thank all our volunteer coaches, both our adult veterans and also our many middle and high school students from the community. The volunteers make the program go.

Finally, we especially want to thank Rita and Flip Mullen who will hold their annual fundraising party for the Special Athletes on Saturday, July 11 at 6 p.m. at their house on Beach 134 Street. This event greatly supports our activities for the year.

Thanks go to our community for their generous and continued support. Of course, without Father Ahlemeyer and Father Dunne, who give us the use of the gym and schoolyard, we could not experience these activities.

Spend some cool Wednesday evenings at Riis Park beach watching the volleyball games. Our team will be there.

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