Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 28, 2009

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged Celebrates 25 Years of Competition

Twelve-hundred athletes to compete at Long Island event

Celebrating its 25th year of competition, the Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged will take place at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, Long Island from May 28th through May 30th. The Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged began in 1985 and was the first publicly sponsored event in the nation developed strictly for physically challenged athletes, and it remains one of very few of its kind.

"For 25 years, the Games for the Physically Challenged have led the way in bringing the thrill of competition to young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in sports," Governor David A. Paterson said. "I salute the athletes for their hard work, and thank their families, friends and coaches for lending the support that helps these athletes succeed."

"New York State Parks is happy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Games for the Physically Challenged, a competition that exemplifies the meaning of sportsmanship," New York State Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash said. "I have great admiration for these competitors. Their positive attitudes and fierce determination show us all what it takes to be a champion."

Some 1,200 young athletes aged 5 to 21 years old who are physically disabled, visually impaired or blind, hearing impaired or deaf, and those with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries or Les Autres, which include arthritis and muscular dystrophy, participate in the games. During the weekend event, athletes will participate in a variety of competitions, including track and field and swimming. The program is designed to emphasize the athletes' abilities and help to develop their confidence. The success the athletes earn at the games helps encourage a lifelong interest in sports and physical activity.

The Opening Ceremony takes place on Thursday evening, May 28th at 6:30 p.m. A parade of athletes kicks off the ceremony, followed by music, honor guard by the New York State Park Police, and the official torch to open the Games. Competition will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and will continue throughout the two days at Mitchel Field in Uniondale, Long Island. The games are open and free of charge to the public.