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Wheelchair Athletes Show Off Skills At Burke Hospital In White Plains

Ronald McDonald made an appearance, much to the delight of the crowd at the Wheelchair Games. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
No one was handicapped at Burke Rehabilitation on Saturday. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
The volunteers provided lunch to all comers in White Plains. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
Outside of the Wheelchair Games, there were a series of carnival games and raffles. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
This youngster showed off some of his tricks to the delight of several White Plains firefighters. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
Some took the time to leave their wheelchairs to participate in the games. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
Volunteers gave out boxed lunches to the athletes competing at the Wheelchair Games. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
Ronald McDonald was a popular surprise for those at the Wheelchair Games. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Some of the finest wheelchair-bound athletes in the tristate area took their talents to Westchester County on Saturday, as Burke Rehabilitation Hospital hosted its annual Paralympics-style Wheelchair Games.

For the 35th straight year, the sprawling campus at Burke was transformed into an Olympic Stadium, as handicapped athletes of all ages and abilities took part in a series of track and field events that included eight races on the hospital’s wheelchair-friendly track, softball, javelin, shot put and table tennis.

Richard Sgaglio, the director of marketing and external relations at Burke said that the event started in 1979 as an event of inclusion to provide wheelchair bound athletes with a sense of competition that was lacking at the time.

“It’s not as competitive as it used to be. The spirit by which it was designed was to offer an event that all athletic abilities could participate at,” he said. “Its really just all about the cheering. It’s a way for us to bring the community together.”

Competing athletes were separated by age and athletic ability, with the Future Division for children, Juniors Division for athletes between the ages of 7 and 21 and the Master Division for everyone else. This year, nearly 100 athletes were registered to show off their skills.

“It’s like having the Paralympics in your backyard,” Tracey Bogard, the Wheelchair Games co-chair said. “It truly is an inspiring event and every year, Burke is proud to host such an amazing group of athletes.”

It wasn’t all about the athletes at Burke on Saturday. More than 250 volunteers that arranged and operated the Wheelchair Games also provided all comers with lunch, carnival games and a series of raffles with proceeds benefitting the hospital’s causes.

“The whole thing is run by more than 250 volunteers. We have a lot of supporters from around the county, be it at colleges, senior living facilities or otherwise. It’s truly a big undertaking, but it fits our mission to provide care for the community,” Sgaglio said. “Here, no one is disabled today.”

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