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Long Island Challengers Step Up To The Plate

Baseball is America’s pastime and should be enjoyed by everyone, including children with special needs.

That has been the thrust of Long Island Challenger Baseball since it was established in 1989 -- to give physically and mentally challenged children from across the island the opportunity to play baseball in an environment structed to their abilities.

And those abilities will be on display at the Long Island Challenger Baseball Jamboree at John J. Burns Park on Merrick Road in Massapequa, Sunday Oct. 13. The special event will bring together challenger teams from through the island and outside of the state.

“I am so pleased that the Town of Oyster Bay will host the 3rd Annual Long Island Challenger Baseball Jamboree,” said Supervisor John Venditto. “Challenger Baseball is a terrific program that enables children with special needs to enjoy all of the fun that comes with playing baseball.”

Little leagues and athletic associations throughout Long Island that annually participate in the Jamboree include Plainview, East Meadow, Massapequa, Lindenhurst, Roslyn, Sachem and Merillon.

The league enables boys and girls with physical and mental challenges, ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school, to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Today, more than 30,000 children participate in upwards of 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide. Teams are set up according to abilities, rather than age, and can include as many as 15-20 players. Challenger games can be played as tee ball games, coach pitch, player pitch, or a combination of the three.

According to Al Friese, commissioner of the Massapequa Coast Little League’s Challenger Division, teams across Long Island and one from New Jersey are expected to participate in the Jamboree. There will also be games, inflatable rides and food for everyone in attendance. Registration begins at noon and opening ceremonies commence at 12:45 p.m. At 3 p.m., there will be Magic by John Lepre, to amaze and entertain all who attend.

Friese said that “Buddies” are utilized for the benefit of Challenger players.

“The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field, but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make the play themselves,” Friese said. “However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed. Parents and teenagers are frequently asked to be ‘buddies’ and find the experience to be uniquely-rewarding.”

After completing a Little League volunteer application and passing a required national background check, teenagers may become buddies, while parents may become involved in practices, and be eligible as coaches, managers, umpires, local league board members and other volunteer positions within the league.

Venditto indicated that the Town’s long history of supporting Challenger Baseball was a strong factor in being selected to host the 2013 Long Island Challenger Baseball Jamboree.

“There’s no question of our commitment to youngsters with special needs,” Venditto said. “We’re proud to host the Jamboree, but more importantly, we are proud of the youngsters who will participate. Their ability to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of their dreams is an inspiration to us all.”

The supervisor also said the field at Burns park was specifically designed accommodate special needs players.

“The Town of Oyster Bay created their first dedicated field at John J. Burns Park to meet the special needs of the players with features such as synthetic turf, which offers a stable, uniform and shock-absorbing playing surface. Since then, we have added two additional fields suitable for the Challenger Division,” he said. “The turf has the bases and pitcher’s mound marked on the surface and not raised. This enables safer and easier mobility for walkers and wheelchairs. In addition, the field has wider gate openings to accommodate wheelchairs, cement pads to facilitate access onto the field and nearby restroom access.”

News

There was a time when people knew what they were eating. Frozen meals, fast food chains and ingredients impossible to pronounce were non-existent. Instead, simple ingredients and meals were all made from scratch.

Joann P. Magri, owner of The Divine Olive, is keeping this way of eating alive. Offering hungry customers with a choice in quality foods and ingredients, Magri encourages customers to make their own meals. With shelves stocked full of 18-year-old vinegars straight from Modena, Italy, to extra virgin olive oils infused with various herbs and flavors, the Divine Olive features a variety of organic and vegan products, all 100 percent natural. It even has handmade spaghetti and fresh bread, which perfectly pairs with all of their other products.

It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.

An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of LI designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.


Sports

It will be difficult to top the exhilaration of being crowned Nassau County Champs, but the 2014 Farmingdale Dalers will begin their defense of the title on Sept. 13 at rival Massapequa—whom they beat to claim the crown.

“The attitude is that we have to prove it again,” said Head Coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has been at the helm since 1993. “But I think we’ll be okay,” he added.

Register now as classes fill up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to join in trapeze workshops at Eisenhower Park’s I.FLY this fall.

 

“I.FLY was designed to give kids and adults the ability to fulfill their dreams of being in the circus,” says instructor Anthony Rosamilia.  “Flying through the air never gets boring.  At I.FLY, we help people create lifelong memories.” 


Calendar

Board of Education Special Meeting

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Movies on the Green: The Nut Job

Thursday, Aug. 28

Warbirds Legends Weekend

Friday, Aug. 29



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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