(HAUPPAUGE, NY May 24, 2016)--Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and other officials announced Tuesday that the county’s half marathon has been designated as international and national championships for the intellectually disabled.
The Catholic Health Services Suffolk County Marathon, Half Marathon and newly added 5k will take place Oct. 30, starting and ending in the village of Patchogue.
“We are pleased that our race will serve as an opportunity for all athletes to demonstrate their skills,” County Executive Bellone said. “An intellectual disability should never be a barrier to those wanting to enjoy participating in sports. We are thrilled that we will serve as a host to these two championships.”
The International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability, known as INAS, has sanctioned the Suffolk Half Marathon as an international championship, and Athletes Without Limits has designated the race as its first-ever national championship.
Barry Holman, chairman of the board for Athletes Without Limits, said, “Athletes Without Limits and INAS are honored and excited to award the Suffolk County Half Marathon the US National Championship for athletes with an intellectual disability. We know the Suffolk County government and community are going to put on a fantastic event that will showcase the drive, talents and achievements of runners with an intellectual disability from the US and internationally.’’
Dr. Catherine Caronia, Chair of Pediatrics, and Dr. Sarita Duchatelier, Director of Pediatric Neurology, both at Good Samaritan Hospital, praised the opportunity for intellectually disabled athletes to fully participate in the event.
“We see the strength in children with special needs and to whom the words “I can’t” don’t exist,” Dr. Caronia said. “At Good Samaritan Health and Medical Center we care for many children with chronic needs including those who have chronic illnesses and often are labeled as medically fragile or medically complex. For these children, as is true for all children, the ability to participate and succeed is inspiring. The ability to lose the ‘I can’t’ from their vocabulary and turning into “I can” allows them to reach heights that they or their families otherwise would never have thought possible. We look forward to partnering to support our children and that of the community.”
“I am honored to be part of this athletic program for these Super special children to partake in and enrich their lives,” Dr. Duchatalier said.
County Veterans Service Agency Director Thomas Ronayne noted that the Suffolk races are part of the eight-race Suffolk County Veteran Run Series, which raises funds for veterans services. The series kicks off Saturday with the Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer Memorial I Did the Grid 4-mile race in East Northport.
Last year, the Suffolk marathon raised nearly $160,000 to assist veterans in Suffolk County. Funds were distributed to 19 organizations serving veterans in Suffolk County.
“As a parent and chair of the Suffolk County Disability Advisory Board and the IDD Committee of the Suffolk County Community Board, I am excited, proud and pleased that County Executive Bellone has advocated for designated the Suffolk County Half marathon as a championship run for those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities,” Roy Probeyahn said. “Their inclusion in such a great Suffolk County event and the designation is a generous and welcome outreach to our most vulnerable citizenry by the County Executive. Bravo!”
This year’s race will start and end in the village of Patchogue, and culminate in the Freedom Fest, which will feature music, food and drinks produced here in Suffolk County.