Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Wheels of Progress - Ironman NYC Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   


Great big THANKS to all who supported me (George Gallego) on this journey. It was certainly an awesome experience despite (as my friend Ronnie says) “the effort, the physical strain, the pain” that it took to do this. Next to “re-inventing myself” after my injury and the very dark years that followed, this was by far the hardest challenge I have embarked on thus far.

Just to keep perspective, my main reason for participating in the 2012 Ironman US Championship was not to win first place but to raise awareness and funds to help free young people with physical disabilities from institutional living. That being said, our goal was accomplished.

There are lots of Ironman stories to tell, but I’d like to offer a brief overview. I woke-up at 1AM to prepare to catch a ferry at the 39th Street Pier at 3:45AM, which would ultimately take me to the transition zone in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Once at the Transition Zone, I was formally introduced to my official handlers: Kathleen Mernin. James Mernin and Brian Gatens. The three of them have done a total of 8 Ironman races! I knew I was in good hands.

At 6AM, I boarded another ferry (along with all the Pro Men and Women) that took me to the swim start 2.4 miles north from the Ross Dock Picnic Area in New Jersey. The ferry ride seemed very, very long! I began to search for landmarks that would help me gauge where I was on the course once I began my swim. I slowly realized that there were only trees and quickly decided to start counting the massive buoys which lined the swim course, but there were too many to count! It was then that I decided that my only other option during the race was to count every stroke… I knew from my training that for every 12 strokes, I was able to swim a distance of 25 meters—I did the math and realized that I needed to stroke 1860 times to cover 2.4 miles. I decided to count every other stroke—so 930 became the magic number. That’s how I began my race—strategizing. That’s where all the fun began. I took my plunge 10 minutes after the Pro men dived into the Hudson River. Contrary to what most people believe, the swim was actually very peaceful: it was just my 930 and I!

I was out of the water 44 minutes after I entered it! At stroke #719, I clearly heard the first male Pro being announced as he exited the water and thought “Oh my God! I am almost there!” Ten minutes later, I was being fished out of the Hudson water at the swim exit!

Once in the transition zone, after only 7 minutes and 15 seconds of prep-time, my handlers made sure that I had everything I needed to begin the 112-mile bike journey ahead of me. James accompanied me on the bike course for the full time and Brian for the first 56 miles. The bike portion was VERY challenging—although manageable. My strategy was to complete a minimum of 27 miles every 2-2:20 hours. As far as nutrition was concerned, my plan was to consume a Rapid Energy Gel and 4-6 ounces of Accelerade fluids every 20 minutes. By the end of the 112 miles I consumed 32 energy gels and drank 6 liters of Accelerade fluids. 

A good friend always says to me "Life is what happens while we are making other plans." Well, I had mechanical issues with my hand-cycle, and I certainly didn't factor that into my plans. On mile 20, my brake cable severed. It took 15 minutes for the official "mobile bike repair technician" to arrive and another 5-10 minutes to replace the cables! That wasn't the end of it! Around mile 40 my brake cable failed again! So it took another 15-20 minutes to make the repairs! Don’t get me wrong; the mechanics did a fantastic job given the circumstances! So, in the end, I completed the 112-mile bike course in 10 hours. The problem was that I had a maximum of 9.5 hours to complete the course; I missed the bike "cut-off" by 30 minutes. I was not allowed to continue to the run course. Therefore, I never made it to the race finish line.

At the end of the bike course, as I was cycling towards the Transition Zone at about 18-20 mph, I was treated to a sweet surprise! On the ramp leading into the zone were my two favorite people: Julia and Ro!!! They were as surprised as I was to see them! It really was a sweet welcome to my unofficial finish line! Once I arrived at the “bike-in” entrance, my timing chip was removed from my ankle and I was officially out of the race.

In the transition zone, as I was transferring out of my hand cycle, I decided to sit on the grass and do a little regrouping. Again I was surprised to see two more people from the Wheels of Progress family: Jose Hernandez and his close friend Anthony who had made a terrific effort to get to the Transition Zone to greet me. Life is wonderful at times—my family and friends appeared when I needed them the most….

I thought I would be hugely disappointed if I didn’t complete the race, but I wasn't. I know that I gave it my all…the mechanical issues were totally out of my control, and most importantly, I raced for a reason--that mission was accomplished. I am not bitter at all. That's part of life. The better person is the one who can adapt to the circumstances and move on to the next thing. As a person living with a disability, I've learned to master the art of re-inventing oneself. This was another great learning experience for me I never doubted that I could do the distance; my only question was whether I could do that particular course within the time constraints—and I now know that I can. In addition, at the end of the day, it was a TEAM effort, and I ended the day with the people I care most about.

Oh, a reporter from Fios1 News did a 5-minute piece on my preparation for the Ironman. You can see her TV news report at:

Finally, after reflection, I realize that the Ironman race was training for the toughest challenge that’s yet to come: the creation our first affordable, accessible, supportive building for the folks we serve. I hope you will continue to be with us for the rest of the journey.




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1325 5th Ave Apt 4B
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 02:46
USA Wheelchair Basketball Men's & Women's National Teams Announced Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

Twelve players have been nominated to the 2012 USA Men's Paralympic Team.


Class 1.0

Ian Lynch- Brooklyn Park, MN

Eric Barber- Whitewater, WI

Class 2.5

Trevon Jenifer- Huntington, MD

Jason Nelms- Detroit, MI

Jeremy Lade- Janesville, WI

Class 3.0

Paul Schulte- Bradenton, FL

Will Waller- Hudson, OH

Class 3.5

Steve Serio- Long Island, NY

Matt Scott- Detroit, MI

Josh Turek- Omaha, NE

Class 4.0

Joe Chambers- Davis, CA

Class 4.5

Nate Hinze- Ripon, WI


The coaching staff of the 2012 USA Women’s Paralympic Basketball team are very pleased to announce the following athletes have been nominated to represent the United States in the sport of women’s wheelchair basketball.  This year’s squad is looking to build upon it’s recent gold medal performance at the 2011 Parapan Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and defend it’s Gold Medal from the Beijing Paralympic Games.


Class 1.0

Mary Allison Milford – Birmingham, Alabama

Class 1.5

Darlene Hunter – Arlington, Texas

Jennifer Chew – Littleton, Colorado

Class 2.0

Jennifer Poist – Tucson, Arizona

Class 2.5

Alana Nichols – Wheatridge, Colorado

Becca Murray – Germantown, Wisconsin

Sarah Binsfeld – Vadnais Heights, Minnesota

Sarah Castle – Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Class 3.5

Desiree Miller – Whitewater, Wisconsin

Rose Hollermann – Elysian, Minnesota

Class 4.0

Andrea Woodson-Smith – Durham, North Carolina

Class 4.5

Natalie Schneider – Ord, Nebraska

Named as Alternates for the 2012 team are:

Gail Gaeng – Frederick, Maryland

Jennifer Ruddell – Gilbert, Arizona


Head Coach: David Kiley – Mooresville, South Carolina

Team Leader: Jeff Downes – Dallas, Texas

Defensive Coordinator: Miles Thompson – Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Assistant Coach: Matt Buchi – Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Assistant Coach: Dan Price – Whitewater, Wisconsin

Certified Athletic Trainer – Kris Gratias, Birmingham, Alabama 

 For more information about Wheelchair Basketball, please go to www.nwba.org 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 22:55
Sled Hockey Clinic & Exhibition (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


The Wheelchair Sports Federation hosted a Sled Hockey Clinic and Exhibition at the Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford NY on Sunday June 24. 2012.  12 Sled Hockey players showed off their skills and had a quick game for the local residents.  Veteran and New players alike learned some new skills for their upcoming season this fall. 


For a video story please go to: http://newyork.newsday.com/westchester/wheelchair-sports-federation-holds-sled-hockey-benefit-1.3802509

Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2012 13:25
12th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


Over 60 wheelchair tennis players participated in the 12th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from Thursday June 7th to Sunday June 10th, 2012.  The big winner was Men's Open Singles & Doubles Winner Stephen Welch who continues his winning ways in New York City. The list of all the winners is as follows:

Men's Open Consolation & Doubles Winner:  John Becker

Men's Open Singles & Doubles Finalist:  Daniel Rodrigues
Men's Open Doubles Finalist: Rafael Medeiros
Men's A Singles & Doubles Winner: Todd Cox
Men's A Doubles Wiinner: Kevin Green
Men's A Singles Finalist: Joe Sullivan
Men's A Consolation Winner: Cristobal Rivera
Men's A Doubles Finalist: Chris Herman
Men's A Doubles Finalist: Dick Lane
Men's B Singles & Doubles Winner: Atif Moon
Men's B Doubles Winner: Jerry Russell
Men's B Singles Finalist: Ricardo Corral
Men's B Consolation & Doubles Finalist: Jose Gomez
Men's B Doubles Finalist: David Kelly
Men's C Singles Winner & Doubles Finalist: Wayne Bennett
Men's C Singles Finalist & Doubles Winners: Troy Eap
Men's C Doubles Winner: Michael Sullivan
Men's C Consolation Winner: Michael Sullivan
Men's C Doubles Finalist: Alan Salceda
Men's D Singles & Doubles Winner: Rodolfo Guevara
Men's D Doubles Winner: Stephen Santiago
Men's D Singles Finalist: Andre Lambert
Men's D Consolation Winner: Rachel Eriksen
Men's D Doubles Finalist: John Robert
Men's D Doubles Finalist: Andre Lambert
Men's Open Quad Winner & Doubles Finalist: David Jordan
Men's Open Quad Finalist & Doubles Finalist: Francois Trawalter
Men's Open Quad Doubles Winner: Marc McLean
Men's Open Quad Doubles Winner: Kevin Whalen
Al Youakim Spirit Award - James Sullivan
George McFadden Sportsmanship Award - John Becker
The tournament also hosted a Kids Clinic for children with disabilities from the New York City Department of Education.  Over 50 kids enjoyed the volunteers from the Eastern Section of the USTA and their drills & games. 
For more information about Wheelchair Tennis, please visit http://www.usta.com/Play-Tennis/Wheelchair-Tennis/Wheelchair/?intloc=headernavsub


Last Updated on Friday, 14 June 2013 23:05
Written by Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine   


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the appointment of Victor Calise as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Commissioner Calise has served the disabled community for over 15 years, most recently as Accessibility Coordinator for Department of Parks and Recreation where he oversaw accessibility compliance at city parks and in Parks Department programming throughout the five boroughs. Commissioner Calise fills the vacancy left by the City’s first Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Matthew Sapolin, who passed away in November 2011. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities functions as a liaison between the disability community and City government. The office works collaboratively with other agencies to assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in all City initiatives by fostering greater cooperation, communication and coordination of functions and services in New York City. Jason Mischel has served as Acting Commissioner of the Office since Sapolin’s passing.



“Our City has made significant gains to improve the lives of people with disabilities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Over the past ten years, former Commissioner Matthew Sapolin helped our City to break down barriers that keep people with disabilities from fully participating in all that our great city has to offer and increase accessibility for all New Yorkers. Victor Calise has the skills and experience to continue and expand on that progress and assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in the development and delivery of City services and programs. I would also like to thank Acting Commissioner Jason Mischel for his commitment to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.”




“I am honored to be selected by Mayor Bloomberg to lead this office and serve New Yorkers with disabilities,” said Commissioner Calise. “It has been a privilege to work with the Bloomberg Administration to help make our City parks more accessible for New Yorkers. Improving the quality of life of individuals with disabilities and working to ensure our City is accessible for all New Yorkers have been important goals of this Administration. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of former Commissioner Mathew Sapolin, we have made great strides towards those goals. I hope to follow his lead and continue making New York a great city to live, work and visit.”


“Victor Calise’s successful spearheading of innovative accessibility initiatives at the Department of Parks and Recreation and his work on behalf of disabled New Yorkers have prepared him to lead the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities,” said Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román. “As commissioner, he will make New York City more accessible for the millions of people with disabilities who live in or visit our great city.”


As Accessibility Coordinator at the Parks Department, Commissioner Calise focused on ensuring that City parks, programs and services provided by the Department are available to New Yorkers of all abilities in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Calise provided technical assistance in the design of parks and developed a training curriculum to familiarize Parks employees with accessibility issues. During his tenure, Calise established an Accessibility Advisory Committee within the Parks Department, the committee provided community input on the development and evaluation of new facilities, programs and services. Calise also implemented a transition plan that indentified and provided remediation for current barriers to accessibility throughout New York City Parks and facilities.


Prior to joining the Parks Department, Commissioner Calise held several positions at the United Spinal Association, a non-profit organization focused on disability rights that aims to improve the quality of life for Americans living with spinal cord injuries. As the Director of Sports Marketing, Commissioner Calise coordinated nationwide adaptive sports programs for United Spinal members and organizations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society. These programs included adaptive field days, wheelchair softball, hand-cycling and sled hockey programs. Through these programs people with disabilities improved their health and well-being through physical activity. During his time at the United Spinal Association, he established four children’s teams in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area and founded the Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament in conjunction with the New York Mets and Wheelchair Sports Federation that is held yearly at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. Commissioner Calise began as Recreation Coordinator at the United Spinal Association where he provided recreation opportunities for disabled veterans in the VA Hospital System in the tri-state area.


Commissioner Calise began his work with disabled New Yorkers as coordinator of the Spinal Cord Injury “DO IT” program at Mount Sinai Medical Center where he worked with spinal cord injury patients to facilitate the transition from the inpatient hospital stay to the outpatient setting in their journey to reintegrate successfully into their community.


An avid athlete, Commissioner Calise was a member of the USA Paralympic Sled Hockey team and represented the USA in the 1998 Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan. He volunteers for the Wheelchair Sports Federation and is frequently a guest speaker on the topics of spinal cord injuries, physical therapy and adaptive sports.


Commissioner Calise earned his B.S. from St. Johns University and his M.A. from Queens College. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and two daughters.


The replacement search was led by Nathan Leventhal, Chairman of the Mayor’s Committee on Appointments, and Andrea Shapiro Davis, Special Advisor to the Mayor.


 High-Resolution Photos Are Attached & Additional Photos Are Available on the Mayor’s Office Flickr Page at http://www.flickr.com/nycmayorsoffice

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 00:00
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