2010-09-03 / Sports

It’s Fun, Fun, Fun At Peyton’s FUN-Raiser Tournament

By Joe McGivney

On Saturday, volleyballs flew all day on the sands of Riis Park as contestants from far and wide took part in Peyton’s FUN-Raiser volleyball tournament for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). After a dreadfully cold, rainy week, a simply perfect Rockaway day drew over 40 teams to the beach for the big event.

The large gathering of friends, family and sports enthusiasts all helped culminate the perfect storm of ‘“FUN”, awareness and support for the SMA cause. This was further bolstered by the presence of so many children with SMA who came from all over the metropolitan region in their wheelchairs to support this great Rockaway cause. The bottom line – the first Peyton’s FUN-Raiser for SMA was a huge success.

In fact, there was so much fun to be had by everyone that the feedback from both participants and spectators alike suggested that the event be held again next year. We’ll think about it....

Peyton would like to thank his family for coming from the corners of the country and oversea for the big day. They travelled from as far as Florida, California, and Italy to be with him. His cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents were all there to support him. He also wants to thanks his friend Madison who has played many roles in his life, babysitter, karate mentor, tutor and biggest cheerleader. And all her friends that dedicated their day to helping out. Peyton also wants to give a special thanks to his big sister Melisa for sharing her birthday day with him for this event.

A day like this does not happen without many donors, helpers and volunteers. Thanks go to Aunt Joan Clifford of EPC Associates. Aunt Joan, Marty Graveley and Jenna Borelli worked all day successfully selling raffles for the SMA cause. Aunt Joan and Marty also made the beautiful doll house and donated the toddler toy basket. The day would not have been as much fun without face painting with Maria Borelli and Cathy Tipaldo and Arts and Crafts with Susan Blume and her two kids, Mary and John. Caroline, Kayla, Jenna and Allie also worked hard on the Crafts table and Jenna and Allie stepped in for teams who were short players.

Shateek Brown was our terrific Guy Friday and he never stopped smiling and laughing through all the heavy lifting and chores he was given. The games could not have started without Fraterine Esquea of Timberland, who recruited five volunteers from his Manhattan store to set up the nets. Patty Moule, RBVL Commissioner, noted that it was nice to come down for some volleyball and not have to worry about setting up the nets.

Thanks to the NPS for coming thru with the beach mat and beach chairs which allowed several of our SMA children the opportunity to play in the sand and water. Greyson particularly enjoyed his time on the beach. ‘Tween” Victoria, a young lady with SMA, did double duty supporting both the FDNY volleyball players and the SMA Families since, like Peyton, her father is also a New York City firefighter.

SMA Families came from as far as Philadelphia to support the cause. Rocco Arizzi, a 37 year old with SMA, came all the way from Philadelphia, maneuvering our public transportation system in 90degree heat in his wheelchair on his own. Arizzi is an inspiration to all our SMA children. Currently he is working on his Ph.D. in Physics which demonstrates that utilizing pathways makes goals attainable. Ricky and Michelle Rubenstein, who lost their 2-year old son Max to SMA, came to support their friends, fellow SMA family Team Erwin, in the volleyball tournament.

Team Erwin needed all the support they could get running into Team Peyton in the first round. The parents of Dylan Cuevas, the Chapter presidents of Families of SMA, made sure we had all the informational materials and bracelets available to help raise awareness of SMA. It was beautiful to see Dylan and all our SMA children together at this event.

Ricky Comis of Fruit and Vegetable Supreme saw an earlier article in the Wave and remembered Peyton from church.

He went out of his way to contact the organizers and donated enough nectarines, plums and watermelon for an army of volleyball players and spectators.

Breakfast bagels, provided by Surfside Bagels, provided the carb loading that the players needed to get their energy up in the morning; Heroes, provided by Boardwalk Bagels, gave a much needed lunch break for the teams required to move onto the finals; The pizza by Ciros on Beach Channel Drive kept the kids’ bellies full until the ice cream saucers arrived from Carvel. The frosty treats disappeared faster than E289/L138 got knocked out of the FDNY Division.

Brooklyn Cupcakes, courtesy of Gina Madera and Carmen Rodriguez, were favorites of the kids in attendance and for the kids at heart, like Jack Brunner. Rodriguez had a Crazy Carrot cupcake waiting for Jack every time he passed by during the clean up. And he passed by a lot.

Thanks to the PBA and Port Authority Police Unity tour who shared their cantina, which was a valuable piece of real estate. It provided welcome shade and comfort for the SMA kids and volunteers. They also provided the power generators that were used by both DJ Tommy Tunes and the Bounce Castle provided by NY Kids Time. Dawn Henderson stepped in at the last minute to run the kids volleyball clinic along with Darlene Ritchie and it was a big success. Nancy Ebert, Joanne Healy, Jeannine Ritchie and Cynthia Clifford ran the registration booth flawlessly.

Manny Pina (the Rockaway wannabe), first came to Rockaway several years ago as a participant with the Wounded Warrior Project. He is now a regular guest of his former host family the Clifford family, arrived early to help set up and work with registration. John Tipaldo spent a good portion of his day in the RBVL office crunching numbers and making the brackets. A good effort was made to place the top RBVL teams in separate brackets, but when the Sugar Bowl lost their first round to Band of Brothers aka (Team Sica) by a one point differential the sweet-talking Mike Martin asked for a closer look at the score sheets.

A captains meeting was called and it was decided that the Sugar Bowl would not play Freedhands in the first round of the playoff. However, they did meet in the semifinal round where Freedhands was triumphant. Freedhands then went on to beat the Storage Place in the championship round in the 4’s division while their 6’s team also was victorious, beating the Grasshoppers in the final.

The FDNY teams were a pleasure to work with. They are not only NY’s Bravest but also the most self-sufficient volleyballers around. Congratulations to E265/L121 for winning their division. Thanks to all of the firefighters from throughout Brooklyn and Queens who helped out and supported the tournament. The “Beach House” Beach 116th Street E268/L137 played the “Best on the Beach” E265/L121 in the finals which turned the FDNY Division to the “Battle of the Beaches.” The Best on the Beach narrowly defeated the Beach House to earn a volleyball championship and bragging rights until next season. E329, “No Country for Old Men,” were able to advance to the second round but couldn’t hold on to their title, despite their Captain’s familial connections. They were probably exhausted from setting up 20 volleyball nets with the Captain’s daughter.

Elaine from BK&WW Hareem was a very happy runner-up in her first round games when she beat the all-guy team of Andrews Burns 21-13 in Game 4. Chico’s was not on their usually sharp Wednesday night game as they couldn’t buy a win. Andrews Burns was asked to come up with a better volleyball team name but couldn’t.

The Melons won their first round win with a slim 2 point differential over The Jimmy Mack attack and the male Cougars. Sean Shevlin and his team took on both Yacht club squads to advance into the playoffs with the Snotty Yachties as runner-up. Sean went almost all the way, losing to the Grasshoppers in the semi-finals. The Cabana and Last Call both advanced as they split their wins and the third team in their group forfeited. Thanks for your donation, third team; it is much appreciated. WISH, A Day Out and Coursey Hair Spikes split their first round with two wins each. WISH and A Day Out advanced as the winner and runnerup while Coursey Hair Spikes missed out on advancing by a single point. You can’t get any closer than that.

Team Peyton was a group of individuals who registered as singles but played like they had known each other for years. With the help of Lauren Moule, they went 4-0 in their first round of games. Linda of the Kodachromes was as surprised as anyone when they didn’t advance to the playoffs.

The Grasshoppers and Boarders each took three games in their first round with Boarders advancing via an 11 point differential. Team Mullen did their best but they weren’t able to win against such competitive players. Robin Shapiro Island of the RBVL split their team into three units - Team Tracey, Jax on the Block and To Kill a Blocking Nerd. Team Tracey didn’t score any wins against Bonzai or Team Tansey. Neither Jax on the Block or the Blocking Nerds were able to beat Air Force One. After playing Patty’s team, Air Force One, Denise did note that she has much more fun working with Patty than playing volleyball against her.

It was wonderful to see Catherine Gaynor of Sophia’s Cure Foundation win the romance basket which included excellent wine donated from Station Liquors and romantic gifts from Pearls of Passion. After just having their second baby three weeks ago, she is going to have to find time to put the basket to good use. Liz Duffy of WISH won the American flag portrait donated by Blue Bungalow.

With all the help the WISH girls gave, it was great to see one of their own win something in the raffle. As volleyball players they weren’t very “inspiring, supportive or helpful” to each other. Other great prizes such as children’s books valued at $300 donated by Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine went to a happy winner. Many of the local girls waited in anticipation for the drawing for the Ray Ban Sunglasses donated by the Rockaway Beach Surf Shop to be called only to find out that the same person who won the books won the ray bans. The girls will have to break into their babysitting money and head down to the surf shop themselves to buy new shades.

Jacqueline, Peyton’s mom, would like to pay a special tribute to her main organizers.

“I believe that under extraordinary circumstances, the growth of extraordinary individuals is fostered.

Because it is those extraordinary people who never seek recognition, this is your moment.

“Without you, Peyton’s FUN-Raiser for SMA would truly never have happened. To Cynthia Clifford, who is already well known now as Belle Harbor’s “Family of the Year,” you are now also “Peyton’s Family of the Year.” You are the engine that drove our event from your initial steps to organize it without our knowledge because you knew we would never do it on our own, to creating the PathwaysForPeyton.org web page, acting as our PR Manager, answering all emails and online inquiries and promoting our cause, all while working full-time and holding up the home front.”

And the same is true of our other silent soldier, Denise Brunner. Her true wisdom, ability to decipher the Rockaway and FDNY mindset, connections with the RBVL, not to mention her extensive experience as an Events Planner proved a priceless asset throughout the planning. You two amazing women are an inspiration. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”

And that would have been the final word except Cynthia and Denise has something to say about Peyton’s mom.

“Jacqueline Tansey is a mother of four gorgeous children, one of whom was born with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). She not only manages her son Peyton’s disorder, but raises funds, generates publicity, advances research, and works with Congress in an effort to defeat SMA. Peyton requires a multi-disciplinary team (e.g. Pulmonary care, gastrointestinal and nutritional care, orthopedic care and palliative care, etc.) on a daily basis. Managing Peyton’s special needs, raising three other children, caring for a home, caring for two pets, juggling her husband’s work schedules, and being an advocate for her son makes Jacqueline a FIGHTER MOM!,” Cynthia and Denise says.

“She is a great inspiration to us and we are honored to have been part of the very successful inaugural “Peyton’s FUN Raiser” and we hope to be a part of it again next year. We are whole-heartedly dedicated to helping Jacqueline and her family achieves their goal of finding a cure for SMA. And thank you all for helping.”

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