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The Games Must Go On

Since 1985 Nassau County’s Mitchel Field in Uniondale has hosted the Empire State games for the Physically Challenged. The games have provided Olympic style competition for thousands of athletes from all over New York State. In December of 2010 the games were cancelled due to budget constraints facing the county.

“We were devastated at the time because these games are so important to so many people,” said Program Director of Victory Challenge and the Empire State Games, Susan Miller. “We went to work to try and bring the games back and this year; thanks to help from County Executive Ed Mangano, we celebrated our third year of the games taking place.”

Miller said that it took an effort from Mangano, the ‘Save the Games Committee’ and generosity of the community to help bring back the games.

“The Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged offer physically challenged children between the ages of five and 21 years old the opportunity to participate in sports and recreational activities which are adapted best to suit their unique abilities,” said Miller. She added that young athletes who are physically disabled, visually and hearing impaired and those with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy participate in the games.

Some of the events included: track, field, slalom, swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis.

 “The young student athletes who are able to participate in the weekend of events are truly inspirational to watch; as you see them cross the finish line, you see the smiles on their faces and the tears of joy in their eyes,” Mangano recently said, as told by Miller. “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.”

More than 1,100 athletes competed at this year’s games at Mitchel Athletic Complex and Nassau Community College.