(Uniondale, NY) – Alongside County Officials, community and non-profit leaders and numerous event sponsors, last night Nassau County Executive Laura Curran joined the Opening Ceremony for the 35th annual Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged at Mitchel Field’s Butler Building in Uniondale.
“I am so proud to continue to host the Games right here in Nassau County,” said County Executive Laura Curran. “We take special pride in this community-powered event that celebrates athletes of all abilities. I’m grateful as always to our sponsors for helping us keep this meaningful event alive. A sincere thank you to Games Director Susan Maxwell, the Committee Heads, County Departments and the many volunteers for their tireless efforts to continue to ensure the success of the Games. Now let the games begin!”
The opening ceremony kicked off with a parade of participating student athletes and launched the three-day competitive sports event that will be held at Mitchel Athletic Complex and Nassau Community College from May 30th – June 1, 2019. This year, there are 1,190 athletes participating ages five to 21, whose physical challenges include amputee, blind or visually impaired, cerebral palsy, deaf or hearing impaired, spinal cord injured and Les Autres.
Athletes travel to Nassau County from across New York State to veil for gold, silver and bronze medals and fourth, fifth and sixth place ribbons, while other participants receive a “Personal Best” ribbon for taking part. Competitive sports at the Games include wheelchair basketball, a wide range of track and field events, swimming, archery, table tennis and more.
The focus this year is on the 35th Anniversary of the Games and what an accomplishment that has been – it is the longest running program of its kind. Nassau County saved the Games in 2011 when New York State cut funding and eliminated all Empire State Games programs from the budget. Since then, the event has been put on through the help of private and community support and numerous dedicated sponsors including: The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Long Island, GEICO, the New York Yankees, NICE BUS, The Dee Foundation, The Theresa Foundation, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, UBS Financial Services, Citizens United to Remove Barriers, Henry Schein, Bussani Mobility Team, Home Medical Equipment, Fidelity Investments, the New York Islanders and SureHands Lift and Care Systems.
The games emphasize athletes’ abilities and help them develop confidence and self-esteem. Each athlete competes against other athletes of the same age group, gender and classification based on physical challenges and severity. Cerebral Palsy, for instance, has 11 separate classifications. They also compete on slalom courses set up to accommodate ambulatory, wheelchair and blind as well as visually impaired athletes.
The event takes place rain-or-shine and is free to attend and open to the public. For more information, please visit Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged website at www.nassaucountypcgames.com.