EI Fields 19 Special Olympians


East Islip entered a team of 19 student-athletes in this year’s Special Olympics Long Island Spring Games South, hosted by Bellport High School on May 7.

Physical education teachers Laura O’Donnell and Diane Wahrenburg became Special Olympics coaches and started a training program at East Islip Middle School last year, entering six middle school student-athletes in the 2016 games. This year, the team more than tripled, growing to include both middle school and high school students, as well as an additional coach, Julie Susskind. 

After eight weeks of training, the athletes attended a special breakfast, held in honor of the team, on the Friday preceding the event, hosted by the middle school and sponsored by SEPTO. Their families, coaches and district administrators were on hand to celebrate and congratulate the athletes on their hard work and to wish them luck at the games.

The students competed in two events each at the Special Olympics, including the turbo jav throw, softball throw, tennis ball throw, 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash and 100-meter walk. Middle school athletes Anthony Agresta, Madeline Director, Ryan Guerra, Krish Khajuria, Jake Kozak, Janissa Lloyd, Timmy McCall, Julia Modico, Michael Pacheko, Sarah Spruyt and Christopher Urraro took numerous gold, silver and bronze medals and ribbons in their events. High school athletes Delaney Conlan, Danny DiOrio, Jon Michael Jacobs, Emily Maccarone, Robert Phillips, Michael Quagliara, James Stiso and Kelly Stupplebeen also came home with multiple medals and ribbons.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day for our Special Olympics athletes to compete,” said Wahrenburg. “I am proud of each and every one of them, and I am grateful to be a part of our team and this organization.”

“The kids were excited about competing in the events that they had spent weeks training for,” said O’Donnell, who noted that the coaches look forward to putting together an even bigger team next year. “They were proud of their personal achievements and cheered on their friends. It was a day of victory and pride for everyone involved.”

The students were also honored at the district’s June 8 Board of Education meeting.