Times of Middle Country

A horseshoe crab no more than 4 years old. Photo by Erika Karp

With its horseshoe crab population dwindling, Town of Brookhaven officials are calling on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to ban harvesting within 500 feet of town property.

At the Mount Sinai Stewardship Center at Cedar Beach on Tuesday, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) announced the Brookhaven Town Board is poised to approve a message in support of the ban at Thursday night’s board meeting.

A horseshoe crab no more than 4 years old is the center of attention at a press conference on Tuesday. Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine is calling on the state to ban the harvesting of the crabs within 500 feet of town property. Photo by Erika Karp
A horseshoe crab no more than 4 years old is the center of attention at a press conference on Tuesday. Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine is calling on the state to ban the harvesting of the crabs within 500 feet of town property. Photo by Erika Karp

Horseshoe crabs are harvested for bait and medicinal purposes, as their blue blood, which is worth an estimated $15,000 a quart, is used in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries to detect bacterial contamination in drugs and medical supplies, due to its special properties.

While there is already a harvesting ban in place for Mount Sinai Harbor, Romaine is seeking to expand the restriction across the north and south shores so the crabs have a safe place to mate.

The crabs take about nine years to reach sexual maturity.

“We think it is time not to stop or prohibit the harvesting of horseshoe crabs … but instead to say, ‘Not within town properties,’” Romaine stated.

Brookhaven’s Chief Environmental Analyst Anthony Graves and clean water advocacy group Defend H20’s Founder and President Kevin McAllister joined Romaine at the Tuesday morning press conference.

Graves said the ban would help preserve the 450-million-year-old species’ population.

Preserving the species affects more than just the crabs: If the population continues to shrink, other species — like the red knot bird, which eat the crab eggs — will suffer.

“They are in some ways an ecological keystone species,” Graves said. “That means that they serve a function beyond their individual existence.”

East Coast waterways are the epicenter for the crabs and, according to McAllister, states like New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia have already enacted harvesting limits. The crabs’ nesting season starts in mid-May and lasts until the end of June. Officials said the crabs are oftentimes harvested at night and illegally.

Romaine said he has asked all of the town’s waterfront villages to support the measure. If the DEC moves forward with the ban, Romaine said the town could help the department with enforcement by establishing an intermunicipal agreement.

A DEC representative did not immediately return a request for comment.

File photo

Police charged a woman with reckless endangerment after she allegedly fired a rifle from her apartment balcony on Monday evening.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the 26-year-old suspect, a resident of the Brookwood Village apartments in Coram, fired the rifle multiple times into a wooded area near her apartment on Dunstan Place at 6:53 p.m.

Police said no one was hit by the shots and there was no property damage.

Officers arrested suspect Suzanne Pesola and recovered two rifles and ammunition, police said. The woman was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal contempt.

Pesola has a previous charge pending against her, a harassment charge from late April. She was listed as being represented by Legal Aid in the New York State court system’s online database and attorney information on the newer charges was not immediately available.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad are investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8652.

A pumped-up crowd in the Centereach High School gymnasium cheered, clapped and clamored to see which of the district’s elementary schools would come out victorious at Monday night’s STEM Celebration.

The evening marked the district’s first celebration of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Hundreds of students, parents, teachers and administrators flooded the school to see students use their skills to build paper helicopters, newspaper tables and cup towers, and compete against each other to build a spaghetti tower. In addition, students from the district’s eight elementary schools presented their LEGO engineering creations to judges.

File photo

Police subdued a man who had allegedly threatened bystanders and officers with a 20-inch machete on Monday afternoon in a Costco parking lot.

The Suffolk County Police Department said officers arrived on the scene shortly after 1 p.m., following numerous witness reports of a naked man waving a machete at people in the lot on Middle Country Road in Lake Grove. The suspect then barricaded himself in the cab of a 2007 Freightliner tractor-trailer, which police said he was operating for a New Jersey-based transport company but was also where he was living.

According to police, the man refused to exit his vehicle when Sgts. Keith Serper and Brian Michels and officers Richard Regula, Christopher Tenbrink, Anthony Sepe and Jean Hutchinson arrived on the scene. But he later attempted to leave the tractor-trailer cab with the machete in his hand, and the officers held the doors shut to contain him. Police said the suspect opened a small window and tried to exit the cab through it, and threatened the officers with the weapon.

Regula, Tenbrink and Serper approached the man closely enough to discharge a Taser. Police then entered the truck cab and subdued him.

No bystanders were hurt in the incident.

The 37-year-old man from Bay Shore, who police identified as Jose Amaya, was arrested and brought to Stony Brook University Hospital for evaluation.

He was charged with menacing a police officer, fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available. He was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Republican Party establishes new Hispanic alliance

Latinos congregate at Xavier Palacios’ law office in Huntington Station last year to watch President Barack Obama announcing executive orders on immigration. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Republicans are vying for the votes of Suffolk’s Latinos.

The county GOP committee announced in a press release last week that for the first time in its history, it would create a Hispanic alliance tasked with registering Latino voters and recruiting potential candidates to run for office.

“For far too long, the political left has taken the Hispanic community for granted and recent polls indicate a growing frustration with the [Democratic] Party’s lack of family values and understanding of small business,” GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said in the statement.

Republicans are seeking to tap into a growing Latino electorate in Suffolk County, the statement said.

According to Nick LaLota, the Republican commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Latinos comprise about 7.8 percent of Suffolk County’s 907,000 total registered voters this year. That’s up from 5.82 percent in 2006, he said.

When drawing up the figures, BOE officials analyzed the last names of voters to determine which individuals have “Hispanic-oriented” names, LaLota said. And while it’s not an “exact science,” it gives officials an idea of the growth of the population.

Two Hispanic Republicans — Brookhaven’s Jose Nunez and Victoria Serpa of Islip — will co-chair the Suffolk County Republican Hispanic Alliance, LaValle said. When reached this week, Nunez said there was a great opportunity for the Republicans to attract Hispanic voters, who traditionally lean Democratic.

“We believe that they have the same core values — family, business,” he said. “They’re very conservative. There’s a lot of religion.”

But as far as Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer is concerned, the Republicans are late to the party. He noted the Democrats have backed several Hispanic individuals who were elected.

“It’s about time,” Schaffer said. “We welcome them to finally recognizing that the Hispanic population is an important part of our county.”

Nunez said the GOP’s new alliance would also serve an educational purpose — engaging Latino voters in a political dialogue and perhaps dispelling fears of the political process that some may have learned in their native countries.

It’s “smart” for Republicans to be reaching out to Hispanic voters, according to Xavier Palacios, a Huntington resident, school board member and co-founder of the Friends of Huntington Station Latin Quarter — a group established to revitalize Huntington Station through business development, mentorship, vocational training and other programs. The No. 1 issue on the minds of Hispanics, Palacios said, is immigration reform, and Republicans need to address the issue head-on if they’re going to attract Latino voters.

“I think it can no longer be the hot potato,” he said. “A solution to real immigration reform needs to be had.”

Not everyone thinks that Latinos care most about the immigration issue. Nunez said there are many Latinos out there who feel people should arrive and settle in the country through legal channels. He also said immigration was a federal issue, not a local one.

Other issues on the local level are of importance to Latinos too. Palacios said Republicans and Democrats would be smart to focus on economic issues, as many Latinos are staggered in professions or can’t afford college. Immigrants come here to fulfill the American Dream, something that appears to be becoming more challenging.

“Folks nowadays, in my view, are losing that dream,” he said.

Burglar caught
A 33-year-old woman from Hauppauge was arrested in Smithtown on May 5 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said that on April 23 at 10 a.m. she entered a vacant home on Davis Street in Hauppauge by smashing a window and damaged the interior of the structure. She was arrested at 9:35 a.m. at the 4th Precinct.

Facepalm
Police said a 29-year-old man was arrested at his home on Apple Lane in Commack on May 9 at about 6:30 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man took six containers of Olay face cream, put them in a bag and exited the store without paying.

Cat food thief caught
A 55-year-old woman from Commack was arrested in the same town on May 7 at about 3:20 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the woman took cat food, a pillow, paper goods and soup from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road without paying. She was arrested at the location.

Cash nabber caught
Police said a 43-year-old man from Yaphank was arrested in Smithtown on May 7 and charged with two counts of grand larceny, one in the third and the other in the fourth degree. Police said the man on two separate occasions earlier this year took cash from a cash register drop box from a store on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and removed it without permission.

An elaborate steal    
An unknown person entered a vacant building, broke down a sheetrock wall and entered neighboring Markar Jewelers on E. Main Street in Smithtown and stole assorted jewelry in a display case on May 8 at about 3:18 a.m.

In your face
Police said two men were involved in an altercation at Accompsett Middle School on Meadow Road in Smithtown on May 5 at about 4:25 p.m. Someone threw dirt into the complainant’s face.

Tires, rims stolen
Eight sets of tires and rims were taken from Smithhaven Dodge on Middle Country Road in Nesconset and a passenger side door window was also damaged sometime between 9 p.m. on May 7 and 7:45 a.m. on May 8.

Jeep stolen
Someone took a customer’s 2012 Jeep from the parking lot of Smithaven Chrysler on Middle County Road in Nesconset sometime between 7:45  and 11:45 a.m. on May 8.

Indian Head harassment
Police received a report of harassment from Key Food on Indian Head Road in Kings Park on May 7 at about 6:15 p.m. A male complainant said a man grabbed him by the shirt and left a red mark.

Figurines lifted
Someone stole figurines from the St. James General Store on Moriches Road around noon on May 8.

Window damaged, rims lifted
Police said someone smashed the window of Smithtown Nissan on Middle Country Road in St. James and stole rims and tires and damaged a window of a 2015 Nissan 370z sometime between 10 p.m. on May 5 and 6:45 a.m. on May 6.

Damaged window
An unknown person smashed the back window of a 2001 Volkwagon Suburban on Middle Country Road in St. James sometime between 9:30 a.m. on May 5 and 8 a.m. on May 6.

Speedy arrest
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Stony Brook and charged him with first-degree operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police said the man was driving a 2011 Subaru southbound on North Country Road and Beacon Hill Drive in Stony Brook and was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. He was arrested on May 7 at 2:45 a.m.

Can’t get enough
Two men — one a 21-year-old from Centereach, another a 22-year-old from Coram — were arrested on May 10 at about 6:42 a.m. in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with trespass. Police said the two men were attempting to open doors of parked vehicles at a location on Pond Path in Setauket. Both were ordered to leave and later returned to the property. The Centereach man was also charged with criminal mischief — police said he punched a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado at that location.

Shopping flee
A Shirley woman was arrested on May 10 at the Walmart on Route 347 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she took assorted clothing and household items, put them in a shopping cart and bags, and walked past the register without paying. She was arrested at the location at about 6 p.m. that day.

Pocketbook pocketed
Someone entered an unlocked front door of a residence on Galleon Lane in Setauket-East Setauket and took a pocketbook containing credit cards, cash and a cell phone sometime between 3:30  and 7 p.m. on May 8.

Money mystery
A Robinhood Lane resident from Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of first-degree identity theft on May 7. Police said someone took cash from the individual’s Bank of America online account and transferred it to different accounts. The transaction occurred at 5:30 p.m. on May 6, police said.

Those darn kids
A Brandywine Drive resident in Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of second-degree harassment on May 5 at 7 p.m. Police said an adult neighbor verbally harassed an 11-year-old.

A lot at stake
Two Willis Avenue neighbors in Port Jefferson Station got into a verbal argument on May 6 after one removed stakes in the ground that marked a proposed fence line.

Do not enter
A 21-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested in Port Jefferson Station on May 9 after he entered a building and remained in it unlawfully. He was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Hateful
A resident of Richmond Hill Road in Sound Beach reported on May 8 that an unknown person had spray-painted a swastika in the street by their home.

Bang bang
An unknown person shot somebody with a BB gun on May 5 in Rocky Point at around 2:45 p.m. According to police, the perpetrator was traveling north on Shell Drive when they fired the gun. The person who was shot was OK.

We are the Champlins
Several people were involved in a fight at a home on Champlin Street in Centereach on May 10. Police said a man went to the hospital after sustaining a head laceration that required medical attention.

Out of gas
A 35-year-old homeless man was charged with third-degree robbery after he stole money from a Middle Country Road gas station on May 8.

Shattered glass
An unknown person smashed a window with a rock at a Shamrock Lane home in Centereach on May 8 at around 8 p.m.

Failing to stop
A 39-year-old Port Jefferson man is facing numerous charges, including leaving the scene of an accident, after he crashed his 2004 Hyundai into a 2015 Jeep on May 8, causing damage. Police said the man fled the scene, which occurred by Skips Road and Route 112 in Coram.

Lost numbers
An unknown person stole a cell phone from a 2009 Chevy Malibu on Wood Road in Centereach on May 8. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.

Zoom
A 1994 Ford was stolen from a Centereach mechanic on May 6. According to police, the vehicle had been repaired, but when the owner went to pick it up, it wasn’t there.

Play ball
An unknown female stole both a baseball cap and a decal from Bob’s Stores in Selden on May 8, shortly before 6 p.m.

Legislator Kara Hahn, center, pitches the pieces of legislation that would employ GPS technology to keep offenders away from domestic violence victims in Suffolk County. Photo from Kara Hahn

The county’s proactive push to empower victims of domestic violence reached another milestone on Tuesday when the Legislature unanimously approved a pilot program that would slap ankle bracelets on offenders under an order of protection.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) ignited the domestic violence discussion last month when the county approved her legislation providing law enforcement and victims with danger assessment tools that identify high-risk offenders. Her efforts turned another corner with Tuesday’s approval of legislation that she called a multi-faceted approach to making Suffolk’s domestic violence policy stronger than it’s ever been.

The latest pieces of legislation make Global Positioning System technology available to electronically monitor those in the family and criminal court systems who are subject to a “stay away” order of protection — which is more restrictive than a “refrain from” order — and pose a continuing threat to the safety of a victim or their children, Hahn said.

“This has been something I’ve wanted to work on since getting here,” said Hahn, whose personal experience as a victim of domestic violence brings the issue to the top of her list of priorities. “One of the things that was important to me was dealing with orders of protection. I had an order of protection and it’s very frightening — and I’ve heard over and over again over the years — that it’s just a piece of paper with no ability to truly protect the victim. That’s what I’m trying to fix.”

Both bills were virtually replicas of one another, but were specific to criminal and family courts respectively.

The county’s district attorney would acquire the GPS units and the offenders would have to cover the cost of monitoring, she said.

Tom Spota, the Suffolk County district attorney, threw his support behind Hahn’s initiative.

“I have every confidence this pilot program will be successful in effectively protecting victims of domestic violence,” he said in a statement.

In 2013 alone, the state division of criminal justice reported that there were more than 1,500 violations of orders of protection in the county. That statistic, coupled with the fact that domestic violence accounted for 21 percent of all violent victimizations nationwide from 2003 to 2012, was what spurred Hahn to bulk up her agenda, she said.

“In my experience as a federal prosecutor, GPS devices serve as a real deterrent,” said Tim Sini, assistant deputy Suffolk County executive. “In the moment of passion, an offender often thinks twice before reoffending when he knows he is being monitored by law enforcement.”

The pilot program would provide the county with 30 new GPS devices to be used when judges assign offenders to an order of protection. The technology could be used in one of two ways — either tracking offenders so they stay away from victims’ homes or jobs, or acting as proximity detectors and letting victims know if an offender is near them. The latter form of tracking would be optional for victims.

“Having been someone who had an order of protection and was afraid that the offender would come, it gives you peace of mind as a victim knowing you could be alerted,” Hahn said. “If a victim doesn’t like it, they don’t have to [wear] it.”

East Northport lawmaker says responsibility of new role to include rebuilding public trust

John Flanagan and former state education commissioner John King at a Common Core forum. File photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Suffolk County’s own state Sen. John Flanagan has been elected to serve as temporary president and state Senate majority leader after former head Dean G. Skelos resigned from the post on Monday.

The Republican-led chamber appointed Flanagan (R-East Northport) as its new leader amid the arrest of Sen. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) last week on federal corruption charges. The change in leadership comes after several Senate members pressured Skelos, a Long Islander who touts a more than 30-year tenure, to resign from his position.

Flanagan has been appointed the temporary position of president and State Senate majority leader for the remainder of the 2015-16 term, according to a video from his swearing-in.

“I am proud and humbled to have been chosen as temporary president and majority leader of the New York State Senate,” Flanagan said in a statement. “I thank my colleagues for the confidence they have placed in me. With this job comes a responsibility to lead and to listen, and to rebuild the public’s trust.”

Flanagan, 54, has held the position of senator since 2002. Prior to joining the Senate, he was a member of the New York State Assembly for 15 years.

State Sen. John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who was vying for the majority position, spoke to Flanagan’s appointment on Monday and said there were no hard feelings.

“I know he is not only a great senator, he’s a great man and I’m proud to move his nomination,” DeFrancisco said.

Flanagan’s colleague, State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) also lauded the move.

“It gives me great joy, great pride to second the nomination of John Flanagan as our temporary president,” LaValle said. “John Flanagan has great intellect, great energy and he has a wonderful, wonderful demeanor that brings people together.”

Many of Flanagan’s colleagues spoke highly of the new majority leader prior to his swearing-in ceremony that took place in Albany following the 32 ayes he received out of 63 senators present.

“The Senate made the right decision by voting Sen. John Flanagan as the newest majority leader,” Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Melville) said in a statement. “Flanagan has a track record for getting things done in the Senate and working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.”

After his swearing in, Flanagan thanked Skelos for his decades of service and accomplishing the enactment of Megan’s Law, a law that publicizes the whereabouts of sex offenders.

“I have now had the good fortune of being in the Legislature for 29 years and I am proud to be in public service,” Flanagan said in a video from his swearing-in ceremony. “I spent 16 years in the Assembly in the minority, I’m now in my 13th year in the Senate, two of which [were] in the minority and I learned a lot being in both venues.”

Middle Country’s Christine Gironda races Smithtown West’s Natalie Lynch for the ground ball off the draw in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team has made history, finishing a perfect season Friday with a 17-13 win over Smithtown West, to go undefeated for the first time in district history.

“The girls played awesome today, and honestly, at practice yesterday, we didn’t even talk about being undefeated,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “These girls are smart, great lacrosse players. I don’t do much but steer the ship. Now we’re back to 0-0, and let the playoffs begin.”

Middle Country’s Nikki Ortega gains possession of the ball in the Mad Dogs’ zone, in her team’s 17-13 win over Smithtown West on May 8. With the win, Middle Country finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Nikki Ortega gains possession of the ball in the Mad Dogs’ zone, in her team’s 17-13 win over Smithtown West on May 8. With the win, Middle Country finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The victory places the team first in Division I.

The Mad Dogs were off to a strong start as usual, lighting up the scoreboard and rattling off seven unanswered goals before Smithtown West midfielder Mackenzie Heldberg, a junior, put the Bulls’ first point on the board. Each team scored four more goals in the first half, to bring the score to 11-5 heading into the break.

“Every game we’re growing, we’re coming together and our chemistry is amazing on and off the field,” senior midfielder and attack Nikki Ortega said. “We’re best friends off the field, and it really shows when we play on the field. I’m so proud of the team, and it’s really all come together.”

Ortega got the ball rolling in the second half after senior goalkeeper Ashley Miller made a big save. Ortega passed the ball to classmate Allison DiPaola, who knocked a shot in early for the 12-5 advantage.

Senior midfielder Christine Gironda continued to aid the Mad Dogs in gaining possession off the draw, which helped her team continue to score and maintain its lead.

“Momentum is everything in this game, and winning the draws gave us so much more momentum and really put us up,” Ortega said.

Ortega continued a series of strong assists when she passed the ball to her younger sister, Jamie, a sophomore midfielder, and Miller followed with two saves to keep the Bulls at bay.

Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo squeezes between Smithtown West’s Kalya Kosubinsky and Katie Aldrich as she moves the ball up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Amanda Masullo squeezes between Smithtown West’s Kalya Kosubinsky and Katie Aldrich as she moves the ball up the field in the Mad Dogs’ 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, Middle Country goes undefeated in regular season play. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“That’s not how they play — they were definitely intimidated, without a doubt,” Smithtown West head coach Carie Bodo said of her team. “I think they put so much pressure on themselves, but in the second half, they were pissed, and they came out and played, and we outscored [Middle Country] in the second half.”

It took a little while for the Bulls to find their groove, and after Nikki Ortega scored off an assist from her younger sister to make the score 16-6 with 15:45 left to play, Smithtown West came back to score five unanswered goals — two by sophomore midfielder Kayla Kosubinsky — and force Middle Country to call a timeout.

“I think in the second half we really stepped it up,” Kosubinsky said. “I think we needed to figure out what we needed to do quicker in the game before there wasn’t much time left, but these girls are amazing and every person has their own role on this team and I think we all work so good together.”

The Mad Dogs regrouped in their huddle.

“This’ll show how much you want it,” Nikki Ortega said to her team. “If we want it, we’ll win.”

Jamie Ortega dished the ball to DiPaola for her hat trick goal, and although the Bulls tacked on two more to end the scoring for the game, Miller made two more stops, leaving the Mad Dogs with an undefeated season at 16-0 with a 14-0 mark in conference play.

Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega shoots the ball over a swarm of Smithtown West players in her team’s 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, the Mad Dogs finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Middle Country’s Jamie Ortega shoots the ball over a swarm of Smithtown West players in her team’s 17-13 win over the Bulls on May 8. With the win, the Mad Dogs finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, with a 14-0 mark in Division I. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Once you have your first save down you have the adrenaline to keep going,” Miller said. “We all try to stay positive and we don’t get down on each other, but bring each other up. I feel like we have good motion going on, and we’re going to keep it going.”

Nikki Ortega finished the game with four goals and five assists, while Jamie Ortega also finished with nine points, off five goals and four assists. Behind DiPaola’s hat trick was sophomore Ava Barry and eighth-grader Sophie Alois with two goals. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Masullo tacked on a goal and an assist, and her twin sister Rachel rounded out the scoring with an assist, while Miller finished with a game-high eight saves.

“It’s something I never dreamed of ever doing,” Nikki Ortega said of going undefeated. “Although it puts a lot of pressure on us for playoffs, it’s the most incredible feeling.”

She feels her team still needs to work on being more composed, especially when its opponent applies pressure and comes back in a game. However, she thinks her team has what it takes to go further than its semifinal appearance last season.

“We have to keep our heads up,” she said. “Every game I play like it’s my last. This is how I’d want to end my season and my career at Middle Country. I think if there was any year that we could go all the way, it’s this year.”

Erin Henderson training for inaugural Suffolk County race

By Julianne Cuba

Erin Henderson runs in the Tallahassee Marathon in which she finished third. Photo from Henderson
Erin Henderson runs in the Tallahassee Marathon in which she finished third. Photo from Henderson

Each morning before caring for her 12 children, Long Island native Erin Henderson sets out for her daily run, which can cover anywhere from 10 to 20-plus miles. These days, part of Henderson’s training includes preparing for Suffolk County’s inaugural marathon on Sept. 13, 2015.

“Every marathon means a lot to me because they all represent weeks and months of hard training, commitment and dedication,” she said. “Getting to race through my home town and having friends and family there will make it that much more special.”

Henderson, who grew up in Selden, moved to Afton, Wyoming, with her husband, Josh, and their three biological sons in 2000.

Two years after settling in Afton, the Henderson clan began growing. Since 2002, Henderson and her husband have adopted nine children —  five girls and four boys. Three of the kids were “older child adoptions” and five were “special needs adoptions.”

Today, the Hendersons’ perfect dozen includes Mercades, 19; Nathan, 18; Ryan, 17; Destinee, 17; Shane, 15; Benjamin, 14; Maggie, 13; Amanda, 13; Marcus, 11; Belane, 11; Solomon, 9; and Noah, 6.

A horseback riding accident left Henderson unable to have any more kids. But with three boys the couple decided to adopt because they wanted a girl.

The Henderson family. Photo from Erin Henderson
The Henderson family. Photo from Erin Henderson

“Our motivation was all pretty much what we wanted, and then when we got over [to Vietnam] we saw so many kids who didn’t have families, and it kind of flip-flopped,” she said. “And it’s cliché to say it’s life changing, but it just was, to see all these kids without parents. We never set out to have 12 kids; it was all one at a time. We just saw a kid that was waiting and they were meant to be with us.”

The Hendersons’ youngest child, Noah, is from Ethiopia and has cerebral palsy. When Noah first joined the family at nine months old, the Hendersons were told he would never sit up on his own.

“He’s a miracle … now he climbs, and goes to school and doing really well,” she said. “He gets into everything. He knows some words and he does some science.”

When she’s not spending time with family, Henderson is either training for marathons herself or training others as a Road Runners Club of America certified running coach and a USA Track & Field certified coach.

Erin Henderson and her husband, Josh. Photo from Henderson
Erin Henderson and her husband, Josh. Photo from Henderson

Henderson, who just turned 38, said she went for her first run in April of 2009 after realizing she needed to start taking care of her own body. It started with a Wii Fit the family received as a Christmas gift from her husband’s sister in December 2008, she said.

“I knew I was overweight at that point,” she said. “The first time you use it, it makes a cartoon character of you, and it inflates or deflates your character. It literally like blew up; it said I was obese. For some reason, just seeing that on screen, I thought, ‘OK enough. It’s time to do something about it.’”

Henderson said she used the Wii Fit for about four months before heading outdoors to run. Just about a year and a half after that, Henderson ran her first marathon in December 2010. She has now completed 17 marathons, including ones in Boston, New York City, Las Vegas, Walt Disney World and Hartford. And she’s certainly not done yet.

Henderson’s running coach, Ray Nelson, is from Cranston, Rhode Island. He’s been coaching Henderson for just over a year now, and the two communicate mainly via phone and email and sometimes in person before races if their schedules allow it.

“She is an extremely hard worker, very diligent in her training and willing to make sacrifices to try to get in her best shape possible but at the same time without shortchanging any of her family. She definitely has her hands full,” Nelson said.

Erin Henderson will run in the first Suffolk County marathon. Photo from Henderson
Erin Henderson will run in the first Suffolk County marathon. Photo from Henderson

Henderson’s husband, a graphic designer and Wyoming native, said supporting each other enriches their relationship, and he can’t imagine his life now without his family.

“Most people don’t set out to do what they think is impossible,” he said.  “My wife is different — she dives right in. She goes in and gets it.”

He also added that he was always a football player growing up, never a runner, but through supporting and running with his wife he was able to run the NYC marathon last year.

“I wouldn’t have ran that marathon had it not been for my wife running,” he said. “I would never have said to myself, ‘you know what? I think I’ll train for a marathon.’”

Henderson said a few of her accomplishments include winning a half marathon, qualifying for the Boston Marathon and taking third overall in the Tallahassee Marathon.

But Henderson’s greatest accomplishments in life all involve her family, she said.

To follow Erin’s journey, visit her blog at www.seemomrunfar.blogspot.com.  To find out more about the Suffolk County Marathon visit www.suffolkmarathon.com.

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