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BMX

Juliet Catanzaro, #15 of Miller Place, was just one of many North Shore residents to race for top spot in Shoreham the weekend of Oct. 4-6. Photo by Kyle Barr

More than 600 BMX riders from across the Northeast came to Shoreham last weekend for a test of speed and skill.

The nonprofit Shoreham BMX hosted the regional Gold Cup championship the weekend of Oct. 4. Sponsored by bicycle association USABMX, the event attracted a large crowd of spectators and competitors, who packed into the small hamlet for the competition on Long Island’s only BMX track.

The event is considered to be among the most competitive races in the country and attracted 677 people from all over.

Racers who looked to compete at the Gold Cup, had to first qualify at two other regional tracks by having good times in their category before they could advance to the finals.

A rider competing in the Gold Cup series counts their best two scores from separate events held over the weekend. Competitors who earn their place on the podium are considered regional champs and receive a coveted gold plate. 

Jennifer Dzvonar, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce and PJS resident, watched both her husband, William, and daughter, Daphne, participate.

“It was amazing to watch them at such a really big event,” she said

Rich Soper, the track operator and president of the Shoreham BMX Parents Association, said this was the first time the track has hosted this specific event, calling it one of the best days he’s ever seen at the Shoreham track.

The North Shore community was well represented at the weekend’s events, with people from Wading River west to Northport competing. Many people from Port Jefferson Station through Rocky Point gained podium spots.

The Shoreham BMX track is notoriously difficult. Soper said that the people and teams who practice on the nonprofit’s track learn tight jumps and turns even at a novice level.  

“That’s why our local people tend to do better,” he said.

Rocky Point resident Marie Stewart watched her son, Keith, compete in the finals this past weekend. The 12-year-old, at age 4 watched a friend navigate the Shoreham track and asked his mom if he could do the same. Since then he and his team, the Rocky Point/Miller Place-based Toxic Racing, have gone on to win multiple Gold Plates at recent competitions. Keith, who currently competes in the 12-year-old expert category, is a past Gold Cup champion and has recently won fifth place in the New York State BMX competition.

“The kids have become such good friends with each other, whether they’re on the team or not,” Stewart said. “It’s not so much the trophy at the end, but what each kid puts into it — their heart and soul.”

Keith said he was happy in how he performed for the Gold Cup considering the tough class he was in. He expects to carry on with BMX for a while more.

Andrew Rosa in his new Quadriciser, which was donated by members of the Marty Lyons Foundation and other donors. Photo from the Marty Lyons Foundation

The Marty Lyons Foundation was among a group of donors who helped make a dream come true for Selden resident Andrew Rosa.

The foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illness, together with mother and son Eileen Valenti and Blake Burgan of Sachem and sisters Dawn and Kim Roesch of the Roesch Law firm in East Meadow, raised money to purchase a Quadriciser rehabilitation chair to assist in Rosa’s recovery.

Now 22 years old, Rosa was a college-bound teenager, junior firefighter, BMX biker and snowboarder. In 2010, he was struck by a car while he was riding his bike. The force of the impact left him in a coma for months while he fought for his life. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and became physically disabled, unable to walk or speak.

In 2013, Rosa’s mother JoAnn applied to the Marty Lyons Foundation for a wish for her son. While he was immediately approved for a wish, he and his family were not quite sure what would be the most appropriate wish. When Rosa’s occupational therapist discussed the great benefits of the Quadriciser with his family, it became quite evident that this was his wish.

“The goal is for Andrew to use the Quadriciser in the home setting on a regular basis to improve his physical capabilities,” his mother said. “It is our hope that he will eventually be able to stand and perhaps take a few steps on his own.”

Currently, Rosa requires 24/7 nursing care, while receiving lots of love and support from his friends and family. He is showing signs of regaining brain function as a result of the intense therapy he receives in his home.

Because this miraculous piece of equipment was way beyond the financial parameters of the organization’s guidelines, others became involved to provide outside fundraising to help Rosa. Through the efforts of the foundation’s wish coordinators, Terri Fudens and John Gordon, multiple donors generously contributed to the purchase of the Quadriciser, including a GoFundMe page set up by the Burgans, and a generous donation from the Roesch Law firm.

“Andrew’s wish took four years to complete,” Fudens said. “But it was well worth the effort.”

The Quadriciser Rosa received stimulates the brain and simultaneously encourages muscle memory in the extremities which later results in neurological connections and advancements.

The equipment lets a patient move his or her arms and legs in patterns that closely simulate walking and crawling. For the first time in years Rosa’s arms and legs can move simultaneously.