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LI and tristate distance swimmers participate in one of world’s longest swim challenges

SHU Swim teammates Victoria Catizone, Nikole Rudis, Julia Pusateri and Shanna Haddow pose for a picture after finishing the grueling 15.5 mile trek. Photo from SWIM organization

Just over 30 years ago, in 1987, three swimmers and two boats launched from Port Jefferson. For more than 15 miles they dragged themselves across the dark blue-green waters of the Long Island Sound, finally making it to Bridgeport, all for the sake of those battling cancer. 

Swimmers take off from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport. Photo from SWIM organization Facebook

This year, just over 100 swimmers sank into the cold waters of the Sound early morning Aug. 3, and in three groups took off on the 15.5-mile trek across the Sound with around 64 support boats and 20 law enforcement vessels staying in pace beside them all the way across to Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

The event is part of Bridgeport-based St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound Marathon, helping to support thousands of people in the Fairfield County, Connecticut area battling cancer. While in 1987 the swimmers raised approximately $5,000 for cancer charity, this has jumped to an average of $250,000 to $300,000 annually in modern times. So far, the foundation is halfway to its final goal of $300,000, while the SWIM program raises around $2 million a year through all their various events.

The money goes to the assistance of people suffering from cancer in the Connecticut area for financial assistance for things beyond what insurance provides, such as mortgage and tax bills. They also help provide mammograms and ultrasounds for uninsured women.

“The goal of the swim is to help patients get through the diagnosis and the cancer, a lot of them aren’t working,” said Lyn Fine-McCarthy, the executive director of St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation. “There is about 30,000 individuals every year that we help, these are patients who are going through cancer treatments, out of work, and sometimes are single moms, and just need a lot of financial assistance.”

Fine-McCarthy added they are grateful to Danfords Hotel & Marina for being the staging ground and home base for the event for years going on.

SHU Swim teammates Victoria Catizone, Nikole Rudis, Julia Pusateri and Shanna Haddow pose for a picture. Photo from SWIM organization

Each relay team is asked to raise a minimum of $7,500, while two-person teams must raise $3,500 and solo swimmers a minimum of $1,500.

While a majority of the swimmers were from Connecticut, a good portion came from the tristate area and from as far away as Tennessee and Florida. Two native Long Island swimmers and exercise science majors at Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University, Victoria Catizone, of Sayville, and Shanna Haddow, of Northport, participated in a team where they have already raised just over $3,000 for the event with a goal of reaching $7,500.

Haddow said this was the first time she and her three teammates have participated in the marathon, with her finishing in a time of 7 hours, 17 minutes.

“We had never done it before,” she said. “We knew what to expect, but not really what to expect. We were taking it swim by swim, and we knew we had a long day ahead of us.”

Haddow, has been swimming since she was 6 years old. She now swims distance for her college team, and said they trained year-round with two practices a day during the school semester and swimming all summer every day up until the start of the race.

Catizone, team captain, has been swimming for nine years, adding it wasn’t just their first time with the marathon, but collectively their first time in open water with the threat of the current, rising waves and poor visibility.

“You definitely start to feel it in your shoulders,” she said. “Once we got to mile 5 it got to be a little mentally grueling, but you just think about the reason why you’re doing it, and the people who you’re doing it for, and it helps you push through.”

Haddow said stepping into open water was at times a shock, sometimes literally as they approached the middle of the Sound where the temperature grew cold, and they swam on without wet suits. 

swimmers meet their boat professionals in front of Danfords Hotel & Marina. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Once we swam into Captain’s Cove, spirits were high again, and once we came in sight of the harbor, we kicked it into gear and all four of us were sprinting to make it to the finish,” she said, adding she was the last one to swim the last leg to the finish line. “Because you swam all day through 15.5 miles, just getting there and hearing your name being called, participating with such a great foundation, it was just the best feeling.”

Both the team and individual swimmers struggled the distance for people in their lives who have or are currently battling cancer. Catizone swam in honor of her grandparents and a friend who is a two-time cancer survivor. Haddow swam in honor of her grandfather, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year. As a team, they swam in memory of a SHU alumni family member who passed last year from cancer.

“Once it got really tough, I told myself, ‘Keep swimming,’ because it was not for me, it was for somebody else,” Haddow said.

Players and professionals work with children with special needs

Lacrosse players and professionals help young people with special needs. Photo by Michael Gargiulo

By Leah Chiappino

Sensory Solutions of Long Island, along with Middle Country Boys Lacrosse located in Port Jeff Station, sponsored their first All Inclusive Lacrosse Clinic, a program that pairs special needs children with an experienced player, July 30. The event was what the organization hopes to be the first of many, and is meant to not only teach lacrosse skills, but to build friendship and camaraderie. 

In a statement, the Inclusive Lacrosse League said their mission was to create an inclusive environment “that grows friendships as well as encourages the acceptance of all children. We are hoping to build the foundation where children with disabilities can increase their confidence and social skills through lacrosse, as well as create lifelong memories and positive experiences for all involved.”

With more than fifty children and fifty volunteers, the field at James D. McNaughton Memorial Park in Centereach was split up into stations, one to teach ground ball, another to teach passing and two to teach shooting. Volunteers consisted of high school lacrosse players, coaches, professional players and even some younger kids that play regularly. 

Jeff Reh, a two-time all-American Division I champion at Adelphi University and special education teacher, is president of the program. Having coached lacrosse, he partnered with Regina Giambone, one of four owners of Sensory Solutions, along with Michael Gargiulo, Larry Ryan, and Michelle Boschto, to launch the clinic. He has ideas to expand the program, which include possibly starting a league, or taking the children to Major League Lacrosse and Premier Lacrosse League games. He says the group received such a positive response, they had to cut down the capacity of participants. 

“Once we know what to expect and how to run things, this will grow and grow,” he said 

There are plans to start fundraising to help expand the program, for which the equipment was donated by Maverik Lacrosse. 

The coach says the work is worth it because of the impact it will have on building relationships for the special needs population. 

“The kids are going to really enjoy getting out of the house and meeting somebody,” he said. “Lacrosse is second. It’s really about the music and hanging out with their friends. They really just want to be part of something.”

Troy Reh, Jeff’s nephew and a player for the Chaos, a Premier Lacrosse League team, volunteered for the event. 

“I’m excited to see their smiles on their faces, and how happy they are to be out here,“ he said.  

Justin Reh, Troy’s twin and New York Lizards lacrosse team player, added, “These kids don’t get to do this every day and for us in our family to be able to give back is very special to us.”

Whitney Wolanski, a parent of one special needs child participating in the program, as well as another child who is volunteering, praised Giambone for her efforts. 

Lacrosse players and professionals help young people with special needs. Photo by Michael Gargiulo

“Regina is amazing, and I can’t say enough nice things about her,” she said. “My son would never get to experience this otherwise. It’s an incredible opportunity for not just the special needs population but for children who don’t have special needs, because if they’re not part of a JV team or varsity team, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for them to play either.”

Sensory Solutions of Long Island offers not only occupational, physical and speech therapy for the special needs population but also social groups, Zumba classes, art and music. 

“It allows kids to have an outlet in a fun, safe space that is not overwhelming for them,” Gargiulo said. 

Giambone added that the lacrosse clinic will help build bridges for the special needs community. 

“It’s going to help integrate the community because a lot of these kids cannot play sports competitively, and this gives them an opportunity to connect with professional players and the varsity lacrosse team,” she said. “We want to teach awareness and empathy, and at the same time give the kids a good experience.”

Ryan explained that the clinic could begin a wider impact in order to help integrate the special needs population. 

“I hope that those without special needs learn to interact with those who do have special needs and gain a little more understanding so when they see a classmate that’s struggling, they’re going to be more apt to help.”

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Eddie Amodeo holding the image of Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio. Photo from Eddie Amodeo

For Eddie Amodeo, a disabled Vietnam veteran, an ordinary trip to a local garage sale in 2007 led to an unexpected journey that would last more than a decade. 

The Calverton resident and active participant in the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 said he remembers while looking through the variety of items on sale, something struck his eye. 

When he took a closer look, he noticed a poster. On it was a drawing that depicted a scene of the USS Yankee Clipper and the USS Cleveland submarine. Amodeo also noticed that there was an image of Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio immortalized in the sky. 

Intrigued by the poster, Amodeo bought it for $2 and while talking to the lady who ran the yard sale, she disclosed more information about the poster 

“She told me it was originally her grandfather’s and she had found it after he had passed away,” Amodeo said. 

Still curious about the origins of the piece, he began doing research to see if he could find out more information but hit a dead end. 

Amodeo, a lifelong Yankees fan, was able to connect with a team merchandising official, who then connected him with DiMaggio’s grandchildren. 

He learned that the poster was drawn by Burris Jenkins as an homage to the day DiMaggio’s famed 56-game hitting streak ended. The drawing depicts a sea battle with DiMaggio batting in the clouds with text reading ‘the 57th Game! 

The two grandchildren then referred Amodeo to Morris Engelberg, Joe DiMaggio’s estate lawyer. 

The Calverton resident also contacted the Baseball Hall of Fame to see if they were interested in the piece. He first provided the museum with a picture of the poster, but they requested to see the original. Amodeo took the poster to Cooperstown for a museum curator to personally examine it and then it was brought in front of the museum’s board. 

Amodeo said he talked to Engelberg a few times about a licensing agreement tied to the poster. After negotiating with the estate lawyer, they eventually came to a mutual agreement on a licensing agreement. 

“There was a lot of back and forth between us,” the Calverton resident said. “But I was able to get the blessing from the estate.”

Amodeo hoped to auction the prints to charities helping disabled veterans and children suffering from cancer as well as seeing if the Yankees and Indians wanted to sell his prints at their store, though he hit a roadblock. 

Despite getting a licensing agreement from the DiMaggio estate, Amodeo would need a separate agreement from Major League Baseball for him to be able to sell and auction the poster. 

“You can get an agreement from MLB, but you have to pay,” he said. 

Amodeo has been persistent but says it is tough to get those doors open as he works
by himself. 

“I haven’t really made progress unfortunately.” he said. “I’m trying to get a hold of someone in the Yankees organization and see where I can go with this.”

The Vietnam veteran added he didn’t have the money to go to a lawyer when he was initially  going through the process. 

Despite his struggles, after more than a decade, the poster is now on display in Cooperstown.  

Amodeo said he made the trip up when the American Legion had its 100th anniversary this year, but was disappointed to see the piece wasn’t on display. 

“They told me that the poster is so fragile that is displayed in cycles,” he said. “I hope to see it in person one day.”

Amodeo said he is fortunate he found the poster all those years ago. 

“It is something I’m proud of,” he said. “It is something that is in the history books.”

Winning the Suffolk Championship wasn’t the goal for the Northport girls lacrosse team, though they went on to capture the Long Island title defeating Farmingdale on June 1, punching their ticket to the New York State semi’s at SUNY Cortland. Then, the Tigers mauled Pittsford 13-3 on Jun 7 to reach the Class A Championship game the following day against Baldwinsville. Unlike the contest the previous day, the Tigers had their hands full, but where able to hold their opponents at bay June 8 to win the game 10-8 to raise the championship plaque. 

Brian Schreck, left, holding his hammer trophy along with his brother Eric Schreck Photo from John Schreck

By John Schreck

On June 8, many wrestlers from high schools and middle schools across Long Island took part in the second annual Vin Altebrando Wrestling Festival in Huntington, hosted in honor of the beloved Walt Whitman High School coach who died last year.

The above photo depicts Miller Place residents Brian Schreck and his proud brother Eric Schreck. Brian competed in the tournament.

Brian won the “hammer” trophy — first place for his weight class of 127-132 pounds for middle schools.

John Schreck is a Miller Place resident.

Community Corner submissions are accepted for every issue. If you have a story you would like to submit, even something as small as a story of finding a lost dog or a small accomplishment of your own, send it to kyle@tbrnewsmedia.com

The Harborfields Tornadoes were too much for East Islip in the Suffolk County Class B title game, winning the championship for a second year in a row with an 11-6 victory May 29 at Farmingdale State College.

John Osmun, a junior, scored twice with two assists, Thomas Sangiovanni had an assist and two goals and Danny Alnwick had the hat-trick. Stephan Markowski had a pair of goals and Ian McGullam Nick Caccamo both scored.

In victory, Harborfields vied for the Long Island Championship, but lost the June 1 face off with Manhasset 16-2 at Hofstra University.

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It was a must-win game for the Eagles of Rocky Point to even the series and force a game three during the June 3 Class A finals, but the Sayville bats picked up the pace in the fifth and sixth innings to de-throne the defending Suffolk Class A baseball champions, putting the game away 8-3.

The Eagles, who defeated Shoreham-Wading River a year ago to capture their first county title in their program history, concluded their season 15-4 in their division. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them next season as they’ll lose nine players of their 15-man roster to graduation.

It took more than 48 minutes of regulation play to decide the Suffolk Class A Championship May 30 between top seeded Smithtown West and the No. 2 seed Ward Melville Patriots, but when time expired both teams were tied at nine goals apiece. It came down to Ward Melville junior Jack Gillen, whose stick would decide the contest two minutes into the sudden death overtime period when junior Steven Germain fed him the ball and Gillen found the cage, his first goal of the game, to win it 10-9. That shot will punch the Patriots ticket to the Long Island Championship round, and will make it the fourth time Ward Melville were made county champs.

Germain topped the scoring chart for the Patriots with his game winning assist to go along with his hat-trick, while senior Dylan Pallonetti and junior Rocco Barbero both scored twice.

Senior John Hoffman led the way for Smithtown West with three goals and the Caddigan brothers, Matt the senior and Danny the sophomore, had two goals each.

Smithtown West concludes their season with a 13-2 record in Div 1, with 14-3 overall.

The Patriots will take on Massapequa for the overall Long Island Title at Hofstra University June 1. Game time is at 10:00am.

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It was a back and forth battle between the Shoreham-Wading Wildcats and visiting Sayville in the Div-II class C quarterfinal playoff round May 18 with both tied at four goals each at the half. Junior attack Hayden Lachenmeyer scored the go ahead goal for the Wildcats with a seemingly impossible goal for SWR. She lay on the ground but yet managed to get a shot off for the goal. With just over two minutes left, Shoreham-Wading River netted an insurance goal and from there let the clock upwind for a 9-7 victory.

Senior Isabella Meli topped the scoring chart for the Wildcats with an assist and three goals as her younger sister Gabby Meli had an assist and netted two goals. Senior Nicollette Constant scored as did Lachenmeyer with her out-of-nowhere shot while freshman Catherine Erb along with teammate Amanda Padrazo, a junior, had a goal apiece.

The Wildcats as the No. 4 seed advances to the semifinal round and will face top seeded Mount Sinai on the road May 22. Game time is 4 p.m. with a $10 admission ,or tickets can be purchased online for $7at: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXIWildcats advance to semi-finals with one impossible shot

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The Harborfields Tornadoes girls lacrosse team hung with Mount Sinai for the first 25 minutes of play, trailing by one at the half, but the Mustangs turned up the heat, scoring four times in the final period to ink out a 8-4 win on the road May 9.

As the regular season concludes for both teams, Mount Sinai enters the postseason with a 12-2 record and only one game behind Division II leader Eastport/South Manor. Harborfields enters the playoff picture at 7-7, where they’ll host Hauppauge in the opening round May 18 with game time at 4:00 p.m. Mount Sinai will begin their title quest as the top seed in Class C, earning them a bye in the opening round and will play the winner of the Sayville and Shoreham-Wading River game at home May 22 at 4:00 p.m. Admission is $8, and students with valid ID is $5. 

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