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Nassau County Continues Empire State Games Traditions

In 2011, New York State eliminated all funding for the Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged and Nassau County returned for the second year to help preserve and maintain the games.

“The young student athletes who are able to participate in the weekend of events are truly inspirational to watch,” County Executive Ed Mangano said. “As you see them cross the finish line, you see the smiles on their faces and tears of joy in their eyes. For one weekend, they get to compete with their friends from across New York State, share their stories and continue to build long-lasting friendships.”

The Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged have taken place in Nassau County for the past 28 years. The Mitchel Field Athletic Complex and Nassau Community College are home to many of the sporting events, including where athletes compete in track, field, slalom, swimming, wheelchair basketball table tennis, archery, and more.

Participants range in age from 5 to 21. This year’s Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged were held from May 31 through June 2 for more than 932 registered athletes from across the state.

There is no cost to athletes to participate; much of the funding is through private and corporate donation. The dedicated parents, families, teachers, coaches and volunteers are critical to the success of these games. The event operates with limited staffing, and is facilitated by those who return year after year.

Some of the many supporters and sponsors for this year’s event included: Dom Labin of Hofstra University; John D. Kemp Esq., president and CEO of Abilities!; Michael Oliveri of NBTY; John Bussani and Dan Bussani of Bussani Mobility; John McDonough, president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick; Loraine Fruhwald of Elias Properties; Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano; Susan Gordon-Ryan, event chairwoman; Tony Femminella, vice president of store operations for King Kullen; Richard V. Guardino Jr., vice president of business development for Hofstra University; and New York State Assemblymen David McDonough and David Denenberg.

NBTY Helping Hands Charity, a nonprofit corporation formed by NBTY, Inc. a leading manufacturer and distributor of nutritional supplements worldwide, has committed to being the event sponsor of the games. Their donation of $50,000 helped to provide a memorable weekend of events for the physically challenged student athletes participating in the events.

“NBTY Helping Hands is very honored to once again have the opportunity to support the Victory Challenge Games,” Michael Oliveri of NBTY Helping Hands said.

In its 28th year of competition, the games continued in part from contributions from King Kullen, which has been a longtime sponsor of feeding the athletes, while Hofstra University committed to housing the athletes with only minimal costs for maintenance. Nassau Community College hosted swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis events as well as the closing ceremonies. Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) continued to show their support by providing medical assistance with staff and volunteers.

“Nassau Community College is pleased to be the host venue for this year’s Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. The men and women who will participate in these games have ‘the right stuff’ and demonstrate ‘the true gift’ that will bring a glow of satisfaction to them and a feeling of immense pride to all of us,” Dr. Donald P. Astrab, president of Nassau Community College said.

Martin Elias of the Ike, Molly and Steven Elias Foundation presented the county executive with a Silver Medal Sponsorship of $10,000. “I applaud County Executive Ed Mangano for his efforts to make the games a success for another year,” Elias said. “The games are an inspiration to me, my friends and family. I am honored to be a sponsor of this competition and look forward to attending all of different events to see the athletes in action.”

T.J. Berger, President of the Little Something Charities, presented Mangano with a $3,583 sponsorship check. The Bussani Mobility Team also presented Mangano with a sponsorship check of $5,000.

General donations continue to be accepted at: Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged, Office of County Executive Edward P. Mangano, 1550 Franklin Avenue Suite 212, Mineola, NY 11501. Checks should be made payable to “Friends of Nassau County Recreation.”

Christy Hinko contributed to this story.