BY EDEN LAIKIN
Uniondale, NY – Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano officially opened the 2016 Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged, at a ceremony last night. The Competition and Demonstrations take place this weekend – June 2 to June 4 – at the Mitchel Athletic Complex and Nassau Community College, both in Uniondale.
Victor Calise – Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities – gave the Keynote address at last night’s ceremony – after being introduced by Master of Ceremonies Connor Pilkington, from WBAB. Athletes marched in to room, to music by the Range of Motion band – which is part of the Coalition of Disabled Musicians.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 32nd Year of Celebrating Ability!” County Executive Mangano said at the Opening Ceremony. “We are honored to be joined here by all of the athletes, coaches, friends, and family members for a weekend of memories and competition.”
With the financial support of various corporations, more than 1,000 athletes compete in track, field, slalom, archery, swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis. Participants, ranging from ages 5 to 21, face disabilities such as blindness, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired, spinal cord injured, amputees and those who have cerebral palsy, dwarfism and other physical challenges.
Sponsors for the event include: Hofstra University, Nassau Community College, Elias Properties, the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, NICE bus, Geico, King Kullen, The DEE Foundation, Bussani Mobility Team, C.U.R.B, Scotto Brothers, LAR Enterprises Inc., Cre8ive Video Production and Staging, BrandCycle, Red Mango, BIMBO Bakeries, Driven to Deliver and Rivkin Radler.
The County Executive thanked the “generous” sponsors, as well as all of the people who’ve worked “behind the scenes” for the Games all these years – those who keep track of times, count out medals, gather prizes, cleanup the field and much more.
“These Games are dedicated to the spirit of our athletes,” Mangano told those gathered at the Opening event. “Each of you is an inspiration in courage and commitment to achieve his or her own personal best.”
He then quoted All-Star Baseball and Football player, Bo Jackson, who once said, “Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.”
And, he ended with a quote from Basketball great Michael Jordan, who said, “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”