WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Christopher Finateris table tennis grip is firm and ready for all comers as he prepares for the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital 32nd Annual Wheelchair Games in White Plains on Sept. 24.
I think table tennis may be my best event, but Im pretty strong in the slalom and discus also, said Finateri, a 17-year-old who lives in White Plains. I play table tennis at Burke every Saturday, so Im pretty much ready for the games. Its a fun experience for me. Anyone who competes will be motivated.
Finateri, who will be a senior at White Plains High School in the fall, has spina bifida, a condition that makes it necessary for him to use a wheelchair. As a result, he has developed unique athletic skills and mobility.
Participants in the games are grouped into four classes according to age and ability -- a future division for children ages 6 and younger, a junior division that covers ages 7 through 21, the adult division for ages 22 to 39, and the master division for those over 40. Field events include club, softball, javelin, shot put, and discus.
The slalom takes strong hands and shoulders and Ive been moving in the chair for a long time, so Im pretty good it, said Finateri. You have to be able to move through the obstacle course pretty fast. It takes strength.
The Wheelchair Games provide a competitive arena for disabled persons to compete in a variety of events. Known for therapeutic benefits, wheelchair sports also build strength, coordination, endurance and self-confidence.
"The Wheelchair Games motivate young people and help to reinforce the fact that these athletes can do anything if they set their minds to it, said Richard Sgoglio, director of marketing at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. It's inspiring to see young people like Christopher compete and rewarding to see them come back year after year to participate in the games."
Finateri, who enjoys video games and prefers social studies as his favorite subject, sees the games as another opportunity to enjoy himself. I have to say the games are fun for me, Finateri said. I think Im pretty good at competing, so I am ready to go.
Seventy athletes are expected to play in the games, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 785 Mamaroneck Avenue campus in White Plains.
For additional information and registration, call the Burke Wheelchair Games 2011 hotline, 597-2850, or visit www.burke.org. To sponsor an athlete or donate to the games, please call Burkes Chief Development Officer, Jenny Lewis at 597-2348. If you would like to volunteer your time and assist the day of the games, please contact Sandra Alexandrou at 597-2581.
Will you be attending or volunteering at the Wheelchair Games? Do you know an athlete competing in the Games?
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