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Hicksville Hosts Special Olympics

Hundreds of athletes from all over New York traveled to Hicksville this past weekend for the Special Olympics’ Regional Fall Classic.

The Special Olympics has held a tournament for physically and emotionally disabled athletes at Cantiague Park for several years, but for the first time this year, they partnered with the Nassau County Chapter of AHRC, which had been regularly been holding bocce tournaments at Hicksville Firehouse 3.   

Games took place at both Cantiague Park and Hicksville Firehouse 3. Over 600 athletes played softball, soccer, golf, bocce and ran cross country as parents, volunteers and coaches cheered them on from the sidelines.

“It gives the athletes confidence they wouldn’t normally have, and a sense of belonging as they do this with their peers,” said Diane Colonna, regional director of the Long Island Special Olympics. “It showcases their abilities and that’s what Special Olympics is about, showcasing their ability, not their disability.”

For the past five years, about 20 special needs athletes from Nassau County have gathered to play bocce at Hicksville Firehouse 3. Hicksville’s Sue Wigdzinski is one of the coaches and says playing on the team has given the athletes confidence, and a chance to socialize. Parent Karin Mattone echoes that sentiment, saying she has seen the game help her son, Nick, tremendously.

“It’s an amazing thing to see all these guys do what they do. Bocce helps Nick socially and to learn skills to concentrate on something and to just have a good time,” Mattone said. “It’s good for the parents too, to see their faces when they win is amazing. They just love to be included like everyone else."