May 8th New York Mobility Club: “Home Modifications for Wheelchair Users”

New York Mobility Club
On May 8 from 6-8pm, the New York Mobility Club is holding a FREE event for people with disabilities. Guest speakers from ADA Lifestyles of New York and SureHands will talk about “Home Modifications for Wheelchair Users.” Also included are social activities, refreshments, and giveaways…all in an accessible environment. Easy parking is provided.
Click here for more details

Consider Comfort When Selecting a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Sadly, most people in need of wheelchair accessible vans assume they have to take what they can get. But the fact of the matter is many models out there are getting more and more accommodating in terms of passenger comfort. Before you put own your money on a
van that’s wheelchair accessible
, consider these aspects of comfort and convenience.

New Wheelchair Accessible VansThink About Height:
Whether or not the individual in the wheelchair will be the driver or the passenger needs to be taken into consideration. The amount of height within a van that is wheelchair accessible can be determined by the amount of space the floor has been lowered. There are many models of
new wheelchair accessible vans
out there that have a 10 inch lowered floor. This allows ample space for most people but exceptions can usually be made for taller individuals.

New Wheelchair Accessible VansLifts and Ramps:
You’ll quickly discover that there are numerous different types of wheelchair lifts and ramps to choose from. If you want to play it safe and make sure you are selecting the type of lift that will provide the most interior space, you’ll want to look into an interior lift. These are installed on most newer models of wheelchair accessible vans. Of course, you can purchase an older model and have an interior lift installed in order to free up some space.

Consider Convenience:
Remember, the whole point of having a van wheelchair accessible is so that those with mobility impairments can ride in the same comfort and style as everyone else. Even small luxury items can make the van seem much more convenient for handicapped passengers. Consider things like safety handles, drink and food holders, hand controls and so on. If the individual in the wheelchair will be driving, they should have access to features such as cruise control, tilt steering, and ease of access just like a normal driver.

Keep an eye and ear out for these sorts of convenient features as you start your search for a dependable wheelchair accessible van and you’ll find that they can be just as comfortable and stylish as any other van on the road.

Empire State Games for Physically Challenged Saved: May 30-June 1

Nassau County Games for the Physically Challenged 2013 fundraising check
Nassau County will host the Games for the Physically Challenged on May 30 through June 1 for the third consecutive year. With the support of private-sector donations, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano saved the games in 2011 after learning that New York State had eliminated the funding for the Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. Mangano will continue to coordinate and save the games in 2013.

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

NBTY Helping Hands Charity, a non-profit corporation formed by NBTY, Inc. a leading manufacturer and distributor of nutritional supplements worldwide, has committed once again to being the Event Sponsor of the Games for 2013. Their generous donation of $50,000 will have a significant impact on providing a memorable weekend of events for the physically challenged student athletes participating in the Games.

“As an organization that promotes health and wellness, these games are a perfect vehicle for NBTY to give back to our community and recognize these inspirational and determined athletes for their achievements, said Mike Oliveri, Chairman NBTY Helping Hands. “It is so refreshing to have the opportunity to witness the love, cooperation and good sportsmanship that these games cultivate each year.”

The 2013 Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged will take place from May 30th through June 1st at Mitchel Athletic Complex and Nassau Community College. Athletes will compete in track, field, slalom, archery, swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis.

Participants ranging from ages 5 to 21 face disabilities including blindness, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired, spinal cord injured, amputees and those who have cerebral palsy, dwarfism and other physical challenges.
In its 29th year of competition, the Games will take place in part due to contributions from King Kullen—America’s First Supermarket— who has been a long-time sponsor helping to feed the athletes, while Hofstra University has committed to housing the athletes with only minimal costs for maintenance. Nassau Community College is the venue hosting swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis events as well as the closing ceremonies. NuHealth has shown their support by providing medical assistance with staff and volunteers in the past and will continue in 2013. The Nassau County Department of Health and our Medical Reserve Corp volunteers will once again work in partnership with NuHealth to provide onsite medical care and response during the games. In addition, Veolia will be providing shuttle bus service for Game participants and is also generously donating $3,000 to the Games as well.

“King Kullen has had the honor & privilege to be the food sponsor for The Games since the inception and are pleased to continue to show our support.” Tony Femminella, King Kullen – Vice President of Store Operations.

“The Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged celebrate perseverance, diversity and personal achievement, and the student athletes who compete set the bar high for all of us,” said Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz. “Hofstra is proud and honored to be a part of such an inspiring New York State tradition.” 

“Nassau Community College is once again proud and privileged to be a host venue for the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. There is no hurdle that is a match for the indomitable spirit of the participants. We are all humbled and inspired by their commitment and courage.” Acting President Kenneth K. Saunders, Nassau Community College.

“NuHealth is proud to continue to partner with others in support of the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. Under the leadership of Dr. Jorge Gardyn we will provide the medical advice and support to ensure that the athletes participate in the safest possible environment”. Dr. Steven Walerstein, Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs

The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick has committed to a $5,000 sponsorship for the Games already and will be hosting another fundraiser for the Games on April 8th at Hofstra’s David Mack Hall honoring Susan Gordon Ryan the Founder and Former Director of the Games; Lar Enterprises presented a $3,210 sponsorship of the Games; the Bussani Mobility Team presented a sponsorship check of $2,500 for the Games; Astoria Federal Savings has agreed to a $2,000 sponsorship; the Testaverde Fund will be holding a Fundraiser on May 2nd at Mulcahy’s in Wantagh in memory of Peter Zarba who worked tirelessly on the Games since its inception in 1985 where the funds raised will go directly to the Games; the Disability Opportunities Fund will be providing the medals for the Athletes at the Games; and Bill Mountzouros from Cre8ive Video Productions has given the Games a $3000 discount on the Games video production and also produced a Games promo video at no charge.

“The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick on Long Island are once again proud and happy to help support the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. I congratulate the wonderful athletes who will be competing in this year’s Games, and I’d like to acknowledge all the hardworking volunteers who help make these Games possible.” John McDonough, Friendly Son’s President.

“We wouldn’t miss this event for the world,” said Daniel Bussani, Vice President at Bussani Mobility Team. “This year, it will have an extra special meaning for us as we remember our amazing colleague and friend Peter Zarba and all the years he devoted himself to the Games. Something tells me he’ll be smiling down from above as the athletes compete.”

“The Testaverde Fund is happy to lend its support to the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. We are all devastated by the loss of our good friend Peter Zarba and with him in mind, we will be there every year to help these great games continue to be a huge success.” Anthony Testaverde, The Testaverde Fund

The cost of participation is free and the numbers of athletes increase each year, boasting over 1,000. The dedication brought forth by the parents, families, teachers, coaches and volunteers are critical to the success of the Games. Operating with a small staff, the Games are facilitated by those who return year after year to a program they love.

“I challenge the public, on May 31st and June 1st, to come to Mitchel Athletic Complex and Nassau Community College to support these student athletes and experience first-hand their joy and triumph,” Mangano said.

Never Alone With a Canine Companion

Canine Companions for Independence
We learned all about the miracle of service dogs at the New York Mobility Club last night…and it was fascinating! These incredible canine companions really do help adults and children with disabilities to live more independent lives. They assist, day and night, in the most practical of ways.

Canine Companions for Independence
Yvonne Dagger, President of the Long Island Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and an experienced puppy raiser, demonstrated with 5-month old puppy in training, Dagger. He sported a smart-looking yellow CCI jacket showing that he’s still in training.

It takes about a year to train the dogs. The puppy raisers are volunteers who live and work with them to get them ready for service. CCI uses treats (and lots of praise) to motivate and teach the commands. Eventually, the dogs do the commands just for the “Good Boy!” praise of their human partner.

Canine Companions for Independence
Once they make it through the first level of training, the dogs know how to execute about 30 commands. They can turn on and off lights, open and close doors, pick up dropped keys and credit cards (or anything else), help with clothing, push buttons for elevators and automatic doors, pull their human partner’s manual wheelchair, assist with business transactions…and so much more. They’re also taught to “Speak” very loudly on command if additional help is needed.

CCI has found that people and businesses generally understand the need for service animals. And the Americans With Disabilities Act guarantees people with disabilities the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas open to the public.

Canine Companions for Independence specially breeds their dogs so that their temperament is just right to serve. All the dogs in their program are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or a mixed breed of the two.

Canine Companions for Independence
At last night’s meeting, a graduate team of Vincent, his canine companion Stetson, and mom Mary Kay also shared their story. The blue CCI jacket that Stetson dons tells everyone that he’s an assistance dog. Vincent explained that candidates hoping to receive a CCI service dog must complete a two-week educational course at a regional center. They learn how to work with the dogs and share their lives. They’re matched up with the perfect canine for their needs and personality.

The dogs who make it through the advanced training program know up to 50 commands. And they can be taught specialized commands as needed. For instance, Vincent wanted Stetson to be able to cover him back up when the sheets fell away from him over night so that he didn’t have to call out to his mom each time. And you can bet that Stetson delivers every time.

Canine Companions for Independence
Service dogs not only assist with physical tasks. They also provide companionship and social support. Vincent told us that he “never feels alone” because of Stetson. We could see that the bond between the dog and human partner goes very deep.

The dogs are always at the ready to assist their companion. They lay or sit quietly by their side waiting to serve as commanded. Some of us were wondering if they ever get to be off-duty and “just be dogs.” They have a special command for that, too. Vincent told Stetson to “Release” and he instantly jumped up and made his way around to say hello to our Mobility Club members, wiggling away and with a happy grin on his face. Then all it took was “Stetson” and he was back by his human partner’s side. You just have to say “wow” when you see these dogs in action!

Not every dog graduates from the CCI training program. In fact, only about 40% complete the training and are placed in homes for service. That’s because the organization has extremely high standards, knowing that these special dogs must be 100% reliable for their human partners. The dogs who don’t graduate are adopted as super smart pets. You can imagine the long waiting list to adopt them!

It costs about $45,000 to train and care for these service dogs. But amazingly, they’re provided at no cost to recipients who qualify. The company is funded by private contributions from individuals and businesses, grants from foundations and corporations, and fundraising activities.

If you’re in or near Suffolk County, New York, consider stopping by CCI’s 2nd annual “Wag n’ Wheels” event on Saturday, June 8th (11am-3pm) at Smithtown Scion. There will be service dog demonstrations, fine arts & crafts, raffles, vendors, food & refreshments, and lots of fun for the whole family. We hear the pie-eating contest is tons of fun.

A little piece of etiquette to keep in mind: When you see a service dog, he or she is diligently working. So it’s best not to rush over and say “how cute” and get him all riled up. Instead, ask the human companion if it’s ok to say hello to their dog.

Canine Companions for Independence
was founded in California in 1975, and is now the largest assistance dog organization in the world. Their motto is “Exceptional Dogs for Exceptional People.”

The New York Mobility Club is a free community service held the second Wednesday of each month at
Bussani Mobility Team
, 401 Middle Country Road, Smithtown, NY.

April 10th New York Mobility Club: Service Dogs & Living Aid Products

New York Mobility Club
Next Wednesday on April 10 from 6-8pm, the New York Mobility Club is holding a FREE event for people with disabilities. A guest speaker from
Canine Companions for Independence will talk about “The Miracle of Service Dogs” and give participants a chance meet some of their exceptional dogs and their trainers.

In addition, a mini-trade show of products for independent living will be hosted by Maxi-Aids  The event is sponsored by Bussani Mobility Team
(the leading provider of automotive mobility solutions for people with disabilities on Long Island), and will take place at the company’s new showroom at 401 Middle Country Road, Smithtown, NY.

The New York Mobility Club is a local community group that supports people living with physical disabilities. A FREE community service, the group meets on the second Wednesday of each month. It is a friendly place where people with disabilities and their loved ones can go to talk and learn about all sorts of resources to help them live more independent and fulfilling lives. The atmosphere is uplifting and positive. Participants share their stories, challenges and successes.

At each session, a guest speaker gives the main presentation on one of many topics including health and fitness, travel, finances, relationships, home improvement, and mobility solutions. Also included are social activities, refreshments, and giveaways…all in an accessible environment. Easy parking is provided.

For more information or to RSVP, call 888-690-7709 or email