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Letters to the Editor

Increasing VA Accountability & Economic Opportunity for Our Veterans This Memorial Day

May 22, 2015

Dear Friend, Memorial Day is a time when Americans pay tribute, honor and remember those who have served our country bravely and sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom and democracy. ...

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Today's Events

Police Blotter

$100 in Cigarettes Reported Stolen from Westfield 7-Eleven

May 27, 2015

May 24, 2015 1:16 a.m. An employee of 7-Eleven located at 1200 West South Ave. reported being the victim of a shoplifting. Victim reports that a white male between 40-50 years old entered the ...

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Columns

JCC NEWS

The JCC of Central New Jersey Welcomes Conductor Thomas Elefant for a Music Appreciation Series

During the month of June, the JCC of Central New Jersey is hosting conductor Thomas Elefant who will teach a Music Appreciation series.  Elefant is the Founder and Conductor of The Handel ...

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Weltman Home Services

If You Are on the Fence, the Time is Now!

If you are on the fence replacing your on AC the time is now!  Weltman Home Services is offering a $750 INSTANT CASH REBATE on all new installations but it's only good until JUNE 15th. ...

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BH Sports Training/BrawlHouse: The Water Cooler

BrawlHouse Announces Women's Only Self-Defense Classes

Did you know that 1/5 female college students will become a victim of rape or sexual assault? More evidence rape a significant problem on U.S. college campuses. Women’s Only ...

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Lindabury Legal Corner

Lindabury Participates In Red Nose Day 2015

On Thursday May 21, 2015 the attorneys and staff of Lindabury McCormick participated in Red Nose Day and raised money to provide assistance to children and young people in the United States living ...

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The Seventh District Congressional Report

The Seventh District Congressional Report

Congressman Lance is joined by Congressman Donald Payne Jr. to discuss business before the U.S. House of Representatives.  

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Point View WealthPoints

Soaring Dollar and Your Portfolio: What You Need to Know

Over the last year the Dollar has appreciated nearly 22% versus the world’s currencies.  With forecasts for continuing Dollar strength, what’s the next move for ...

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ViaNutrition

Mindful Eating Tips to Help with Health and Weight Loss

Everyone just wants to feel better, move better, look better and be happy.  Not always in that order but they all rank up there. How we get there is different for everyone. Coming off of a ...

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Westfield Area Y

New Local Mental Health Coaltion Launched

Stress, anxiety and depression are conditions that occur to all of us at various times.  Yet, there is a stigma attached to discussing mental health.  In recognition of Mental Health ...

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In the Schools

Westfield High School Senior Jorge Ledesma Named Presidential Scholar

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced the selection of Jorge Ledesma, a senior at Westfield High School, as a 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Ledesma is one of 141 outstanding ...

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Connecting Commerce and Community

The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce Introduces The Community Street map

The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce will once again produce its Community Street Map, which includes all of our five towns--Fanwood, Garwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield. ...

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Monday with Millicent

Time to Eat at Fiamma Quimby Street, Westfield

The first Fiamma Restaurant opened about five months ago on the corner of Main and Essex Street in Millburn. Owned by brothers Tony Fetajak, Charlie, and Sam Magjuni, and their friend Sam Bek, ...

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In Westfield, Lightning Wheels Paralympic Athletes Reach for Their Goals

By JILL D'AMBROSIO

April 24, 2014 at 11:23 PM

WESTFIELD, NJ – Nine year-old Sarah Maher is a busy girl. She takes piano lessons, participates in Brownies, swims, plays baseball in the Buddy Ball league and, on Thursday nights, takes to the field at Kehler Stadium in Westfield to practice track and field events with Lightning Wheels, a paralympic sports club sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital.

“I like making new friends and having fun with them, and connecting as a team,” said the Franklin Elementary School third grader of Lightning Wheels.

Maher, who has spina bifida, is one of about 30 athletes between the ages of five and 22 in the club, which accepts children and young adults who have a primary diagnosis of a physical disability.

At Thursday’s practice, Maher and her mother Karen said she is trying to qualify in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m wheelchair race events so she can attend the National Junior Disability Championships to be held this July in Iowa.

She has already qualified for NJDC in several swimming events and is eager to take the bus with her teammates to the competition.

“Swimming is my favorite sport,” said Maher, who swims during the winter with Lightning Wheels at an indoor facility in Cranford.

Among the club’s goals are increasing independence and self-esteem of an athlete with a disability, improving an individual’s physical skills through instruction and varied activities and developing a peer group for the athlete and her family.

Head coach Trisha Yurochko expects the athletes to attend practice regularly and to qualify for national competition in six events.

“It’s opened up new worlds for them,” she said.

Stephen Koziel, a 17 year-old high school junior from Kearny who has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, was focused and fast on Thursday as he zipped around the track, arms pumping, in his chair.

“My main goal is to go to the Rio Paralympics in 2016,” he said after his workout.

To do this, Koziel knows he needs to improve his times, expose himself to national coaches and get his name recognized on a wider stage.

Koziel, who also swims with Lightning Wheels and does shot put, javelin and discus, is dedicating his Eagle Scout project to raising awareness of Paralympic sports. He says the club has taught him that “if you put your mind to something, nobody can stop you from doing what you want to do.”

For nine year-old Kiko Mina of Lake Hopatcong, the best part of practice is running around the track. He loves being outside and seeing his friends.
 
"I like running. I practice a lot," said Mina, who had multiple brain surgeries as a baby to cure a seizure disorder.

His dad, Joseph, sees many benefits to Lightning Wheels.

"Aside from the social aspect of it, it gets him to burn all the energy he has," he said.

On Saturday, April 26, Lisa Natale, owner of Michele’s on Prospect, will hold a fundraiser to benefit Lightning Wheels.

With the help of a group of Maher's older sister’s classmates, Natale has organized a parents-versus-kids basketball game at 11 am at Franklin. Participants are invited to have breakfast on the house at Michele’s beginning at 10 a.m., and then are invited back for a free lunch after the game. Several Lightning Wheels members will be at the deli-cafe, near the school at 760 Prospect Street in Westfield, and donations are welcome.