Wheelchair Sports Federation
NY Mets buddy up with Wheelchair Softball Players Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


NEW YORK -- Billy Hannigan is a lifelong Mets fan from Queens who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the club's contest against the Pirates on Tuesday.

But several hours before he took the mound, Hannigan taught some of his favorite Mets players a slightly different game -- wheelchair softball.

"No, not at all," Mets pitcher Dillon Gee said when asked if it was as easy as it looked. "These guys, they make it look easy. But they're so good at it."

 Several Mets players and coaches joined dozens of members of the Wheelchair Sports Federation on Tuesday afternoon in Lot D outside Citi Field as part of the Mets' and Citi's "Teammates in the Community Week" program. The parking lot was converted to a wheelchair softball field, with home plate from Shea Stadium serving as second base.


"To have them play alongside us, it doesn't get any better," Hannigan said. "I'm grinning ear to ear. It's a nice day. Who's got it better than me?"

That optimistic approach has served Hannigan and many like him well. In the Army from 1992-95, Hannigan was injured in a motorcycle accident 16 years ago.

John Hamre, president of WSF, has helped bring awareness to the disabled community, offering triathlons, tennis and football, among other sports.

Last August, Citi Field became the first Major League ballpark to host the National Wheelchair Softball Tournament, with 14 teams from across the country competing during a three-day span at Lots F and D. This year's national tournament will take place from Aug. 11-13 in Omaha, Neb.


Hamre helps with the teams throughout the area. The Mets are in their 10th year sponsoring a team.

On Tuesday, Carlos Beltran, Scott Hairston and several other Mets signed autographs and took pictures with WSF members before trying their hands at wheelchair softball.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen tossed underhand pitches to Beltran and Gee, who learned how difficult it is to swing and hit while confined to a chair.

"It's great," Gee said. "It's a lot of fun for us to come out here and play this game that they've been playing all these years and teach us a little bit how to do it."

The 40-year-old Hannigan, now the director for adaptive sports at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, N.Y., said he was taken aback by how big some of the players were after watching them so many times on television.

Hamre was thankful for the Mets' support.

"It means a lot to the organization and to these sports groups," Hamre said. "These guys sacrifice every day more than most, and this appearance from the Mets players is very rewarding."

Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Last Updated on Thursday, 02 June 2011 04:26
Wheelchair Sports Federation President speaks to Columbia University Graduates Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   


The Wheelchair Sports Federation President, John Hamre, was the Keynote Speaker at the Convocation and Awards Ceremony for the Columbia University Doctor of Physical Theraphy graduates on Tuesday May 17, 2011.  "It was an honor and humbling experience to speak to the next generation of Physical Therapists before they embark on their careers", Mr. Hamre said.  He continued, "Many of the students, now graduates, have volunteered at Wheelchair Sports Federation events and we hope they learned first hand about the importance sports can be in a disabled person's life".


WSF would like to congratulate all of the Graduates of Columbia University's Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.  We wish them the best and as Mr. Hamre said in his address, "We use the term PUSH HARD a lot when we deal with Wheelchair Sports but is also has another meaning that alludes to success.  If you are waiting for good things to just happen, you may be waiting a while.  PUSH HARD! Continue to push yourselves hard and your patients hard and I guarantee you that they will be grateful." 


Mr.Hamre also wanted to thank Victor Calise and Bill Hannigan for taking time out of their busy schedules to join the proceedings  And to the Columbia University's Doctor of Physical Therapy Faculty, Staff, Dr. Joel Stein, Dr Risa Granick, Julie Wilska and Brittney Ravettine for their gracious hospitality and $1,000 gift they made to support Adaptive Sports Programs. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2011 02:06
NY Rolling Knicks at Village Community School (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


Members from the NY Rolling Knicks Division 3 Wheelchair Basketball Team, Edy Lopez and Yuskue Makino and tri-athlete, Ricardo Corral, put on a Wheelchair Basketball Demonstration for the 8th grade students at the Village Community School in Manhattan NY on Friday May 6, 2011.  After, some introductions and a run through of Wheelchair Basketball fundamentals, passing, dribbling and shooting, the 35 students got a chance to try out the adaptive sports wheelchairs and pushed hard for 2 hours.  This was the first time the Wheelchair Sports Federation had a chance to speak with students of The Village Community School and we look forward to seeing a new class of eager to learn 8th graders next year.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 May 2011 03:42
Handcyclers at TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


Wheelchair Sports Federation athletes joined members of Achilles International and Wounded Warrior Project as well as over 30,000 other bike riders for the 2011 TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City of Sunday May 1st, 2011.   The TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour is the largest mass cycling event in the United States.  Over 30,000 cyclists start from Batter Park betwen the skyscrapers of Manhattan and ride 42 miles through all 5 boroughs of New York City that include Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and ending in Staten Island. 


Wheelchair Sports athletes Victor Calise, Ricardo Corral, Billy Hannigan, Helene Hines and Carlos Guzman joined Dick Traum from Achilles International (pictured above) and John Koenck and Nick Kraus from Wounded Warrior Project.  All had a great day to ride and plan on attending next year.

For more information about the Five Boro Bike Tour, please visit  http://www.bikenewyork.org

Last Updated on Monday, 02 May 2011 17:13
Challenged Athletes Foundation Awards More Than $1.4 Million to 980 Individuals Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

Challenged Athletes Foundation Awards More Than $1.4 Million to 980 Individuals


The Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego has announced grants totaling more than $1.4 million to help 980 individuals with physical disabilities become — and stay — involved in sports.

Awarded to athletes in twenty-two countries through the foundation'sAccess for Athletes program, which aims to bridge the gap between physical rehabilitation and the return to an active lifestyle, the grants will help underwrite training and coaching, adaptive sports equipment, and competition-related expenses. Of the record number of grants awarded by the foundation this year, 54 percent went to new program participants representing forty-eight different sports.

"Through the unwavering dedication and support of our fundraisers, sponsors, and donors, the Challenged Athletes Foundation was able to assist more physically challenged individuals than ever before," said CAF executive director Virginia Tinley. "We've seen firsthand how involvement in sports increases self-esteem, encourages independence, and enhances the quality of life for people with physical disabilities. Every recipient of an Access for Athletes grant will have his or her life changed in an incredibly positive way and we are honored to provide these much needed funds."


For more information on Challended Athletes Foundation please visit http://www.challengedathletes.org
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