HUNTINGTON STATION, New York, Mar. 19
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
The South Huntington School District has been sending teams to games hosted by Special Olympics New York (SONY) for several years now, said James Wright, supervisor of physical education, health, athletics, and recreation for the district.
En route to Brentwood, Commack and Huntington, his teams have traveled year after year to participate and compete; but this year, Wright had a different idea.
He wanted to bring the games to South Huntington.
“I came to know Tim Flynn [SONY program director] and I expressed a desire of getting the games to Walt Whitman High School,” Wright said.
While explaining to Wright the extent of the undertaking that hosting the games brings with it, Flynn agreed and now the games are set to come to Whitman on May 3. Wright, and the rest of the district, is excited to welcome what could be nearly 1,000 disabled athletes ages 6 and up hailing from all across Long Island for a day of track and field, tennis and powerlifting.
“The day is run just like any other high school track meet,” he said.
An Olympic village will also accompany this year’s games with a list of vendors still being finalized, Wright said.
SONY was founded in 1968 and is based out of Schenectady, N.Y. The organization seeks to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
For Whitman, in preparation for the games, which are just a little more than a month away, the call for volunteers has been important.
Joe Arcuri, a junior varsity softball coach for Whitman, has been handling the volunteer management for this year’s games.
“We need a lot of volunteers, hundreds,” he said. “But it’s really going to be a fun event. We’ll have volunteers run the different games, keep score, give out awards – it’s really nice day for the athletes and volunteers.”
So far, Arcuri said Whitman has found 100 volunteers, but is on the hunt for more. Last year’s games at Commack High School had 300 volunteers help out with the over-600 athletes that competed.
Volunteers will be asked to set up and break down the events, stage athletes, help out with the opening ceremonies and more. Arcuri also explained that groups are more than welcomed to volunteer together as he tries to keep them together manning the same event or station throughout the day.
“Anybody can volunteer that’s over the age of 15,” he said.
The games start at 8 a.m. on May 3 and are expected to run until 4 p.m. A dry run of the day will also be the day before. For more information on how to become a volunteer, contact Arcuri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information on how to register an athlete for the games is available at so-ny-media.org.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015; A27)