DPT Students Volunteer at Victory Challenge
At the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged, DPT students assist young athletes as they compete in various sports and recreational activities.
This June, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students at Touro’s School of Health Sciences’ Bay Shore campus concluded yet another exciting weekend volunteering at the annual Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged, also known as the Victory Challenge (or Victory Games), held from June 2-June 4 at Nassau Community College and at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Nassau County.
In the Victory Challenge Games, athletes with physical challenges, aged 5-21, compete against each other in sports and recreational activities to win medals and prizes. Physical challenges may include amputations, visual/hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, cardiac/pulmonary disorders, muscular dystrophy, Down’s Syndrome, autism, and more.
The thirty DPT volunteers helped with track-and-field events by setting up equipment, keeping score, and cheering on the athletes. They also helped run the table-tennis games and field games, which included adaptive bowling, ring tosses, and football tosses. They assisted participants with entry and exit onto a special swing which accommodated their wheelchairs, aligned them on the starting block, or spotted them in an activity.
Touro has sent its DPT students to volunteer at the Victory Games for the past ten years. Dr. Robert Troiano, who coordinates the community service requirements for DPT students, says the weekend is a great opportunity for the students. “While generously donating their time to the community, our students gain valuable, rewarding insight into the physical challenges of these athletes.”
Susan Maxwell, Program Director of the Victory Challenge, called this year’s volunteers from Touro “a fantastic group.” “They were hard workers, extremely personable, and related well with all of the athletes and other volunteers. I heard many positive comments from the committee chairs,” she said.
Below, check out the photos, and accompanying comments from volunteer participant Ashley Houck, SHS ’16, to learn more.
For Ashley Houck [second from left], the Victory Games are “a celebration of each participant’s unique strengths, athleticism, and extraordinary spirits.” “What made the two days so memorable was this tremendous sense of unity amongst the participants, families, classmates, teachers, friends, and volunteers…we were all there for a common purpose: to watch these inspiring, incredible athletes succeed.”
“Imagine a track field, baseball field, swimming pool, and gymnasium filled with individuals cheering on loved ones, fellow classmates, and those they have just met for the first time. Regardless of where we were stationed, I think we would all agree that cheering on the participants throughout the events was most meaningful.”
“A memorable moment: the group of us assisting with the field activities was stationed at two different wheelchair swings. Picture the metal framework of a swing set with a heavy duty metal platform at the bottom, just hovering above the ground, and large enough to securely hold a wheelchair. Swings are a great childhood pastime, and now, as an 'adult,' it’s even greater when you help others onto a swing and witness their reaction as they feel the wind hit their face for the first time. You certainly do not forget the smiles and the laughter from the participants nor do you forget the joy emanating from their parents, classmates, and friends as they watched and photographed their loved ones swinging for the first time or returning to the swing year after year.”
“I felt that this year’s theme, ‘Celebrating 32 Years of Ability,’ wonderfully captured the spirit of the Victory Challenge. Simply being a part of it was so fulfilling. Those present could see the potential each individual has to prosper, participate, and grow. I believe it speaks to us, as future physical therapists, to believe in the abilities of those around us.”