Sports

In Westfield, Lightning Wheels Paralympic Athletes Reach for Their Goals

Sarah Maher works on javelin at Lightning Wheels practice Thursday Credits: Jill
Wheelchair athletes from Lightning Wheels practice at the Kehler Stadium track in Westfield. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio

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.

Sign Up for E-News

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.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Bramnick Holds Q & A on High Density Housing in Cranford

October 19, 2017

CRANFORD, NJ – Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-21) encouraged residents against high density housing developments to hire land use attorneys during Wednesday night’s forum on high density housing.

Cranford Mayor Thomas Hannen Jr. and Commissioners Mary O’Connor and Andis Kalnins joined approximately 40 Cranford residents in the private room of Kilkenny House to discuss the issue, ...

Mayor, Councilman Della Fera Deserve Another Term

October 19, 2017

Over the last several years, including through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and one of the worst storms ever to hit the area, we have had the opportunity to watch Mayor Andy Skibitsky, First Ward Councilman Sam Della Fera and their council colleagues in action. Their achievements are well known and one would think speak for themselves. This election cycle, however, a ...

Enhancing Our Parks, Recreational Facilities and Public Spaces

October 19, 2017

In my prior candidate statements, I let you know that over the coming weeks, I would remind residents of all the components of my platform. (You can also read the entire Platform online at www.andy2017.com). 

This week, let’s talk about our public spaces. The opportunity to engage in recreational activities, as well as enjoy the outdoors, is essential to a satisfying ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, October 19, 2:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Retired & Senior Volunteer (RSVP) Information ...

Giving Back

Mon, October 23, 7:30 PM

First Congregational Church , Westfield

Faith & The Front Page

Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_0a79fbeb43aa83318911_davidweinstein2

Tue, October 24, 8:00 AM

Shackamaxon Country Club, Scotch Plains

Cybersecurity: You Are at Risk

Business & Finance Education Government

Surgent's Gymnastics Helps Imagine

October 19, 2017

 Imagine is so grateful to Matt Stevenson, Tracy Stevenson and Drew Yurko of Surgent's Elite School of Gymnastics who donated their time to measure, order and install wall and floor padding in Imagine's Volcano Room. Don't know what a volcano room is? Attend a tour at Imagine in Mountainside and find out!  You can sign up for a tour here: Imagine ...

Westfield Police Blotter: Businesses Report Thefts & More

October 18, 2017

October 11, 2017 3:55 p.m.

A resident of Kent Place reported being the victim of a fraud. Victim reported that an unknown suspect(s) made a purchase of approximately $1,927.68 worth of merchandise and charged it to her credit card. Victim stated she was notified via email.

 

October 12, 2017 2:43 p.m.

Timothy J. Kane, age 34, of Middleton, NJ, responded to WPD to satisfy two ...

New Rate for Business Travel

If you or your employees are planning on traveling for business, you'll want to know that there are new per-diem rates for certain expenses, which are in effect from Oct. 1 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018.

 

New rates includes expenses for transportation industry meals and incidental expenses rates, among others.

 

What you need to know.

Parakeet Lost in Westfield

Yellow parakeet flew off Wednesday in in the area of Dudley Court, Bradford and Mountain Avenue. If you see him, call 908-444-2986.

Tips Make Your Home Photo-Ready and Market-Worthy

You’re selling your home, or you’re starting to think about it, but your house hasn’t been updated or painted in years. You want it to look its best before presenting it to prospective buyers, but you don’t know where to begin.

Home Staging Tips
Sprucing up your home can be as simple as adding a new coat of paint, inside and out, or as extensive as interior renovation ...

Westfield 6th Grader Named Jets ‘Upstander of the Week’

Jackson Dowden, 6th grader at Edison Intermediate School in Westfield, has been selected the New York Jets Tri-State Upstander of the Week.  

Christine Cabrales, physical education teacher who nominated Jackson, stated, “Jackson was nominated by the Edison Physical Education staff because he influences people in a positive way. He proves that he is a role model for ...

Establishing, Revising And Enforcing Time-Sharing With Children

In all cases of divorce or separation where children are involved, the issue of time-sharing (previously referred to as “visitation”) is a significant issue to be addressed.  Unless the parents have agreed to an equal shared custodial arrangement, an appropriate schedule of time-sharing is particularly important for all those involved: the custodial parent, the non-custodial ...

Saving for Higher Education Part 2 – What is your savings strategy?

Most people want to save for their children’s education but what is the best strategy? 

There are three different savings strategies from which you can choose: 

1)         save for 100% of all education costs so that your child has no liability

2)         save a specific dollar amount and ...

Family Health

Second Opinion on Breast Cancer Program Offers Peace of Mind

A breast cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. And during such devastating news, the sheer amount of information regarding treatment and follow-up care can quickly become overwhelming. However, patients are not alone in this fight. Atlantic Health System’s Breast Cancer Second Opinion Program at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Overlook Medical Center, is helping provide peace of ...

Westfield Area YMCA Announces Fall 2 Session Registration

Registration for the Westfield Area YMCA Fall 2 session program registration begins at 6:00pm on Thursday, Oct. 12 for Full members and at 7:30 a.m., Monday Oct.16 for Basic and Non-Members. The Fall 2 Session runs from Oct. 29 to Dec. 23.

Youth basketball league season is gearing up at the Y with a 3-week pre-season ...

What is Co-Dependency? Learn How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

October 15, 2017

JOIN OUR NEW GROUP

Mondays October 23 at 6:30 or Wednesday’s October 25 at 1:00 p.m.

Codependence is a false attachment to a person, place or thing. It becomes a false sense of importance. It is a learned behavior to take care of others’ needs at the expense of our own. It is driven by the excessive need for others’ approval.  Rather than being ...

Paying tribute to 'Shakespeare in Love'

Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey pays tribute to ‘Shakespeare in Love’

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ – Many audiences loved the film version of “Shakespeare in Love,” which won the best picture Academy Award in 1999, with dialogue by Marc Noonan and Tom Stoppard. Adapted by Lee Hall for the stage, much of the dialogue remains. The production has a warmth and ...

Obituaries

Oct 24, 1926 - Aug 14, 2017
Elizabeth H. List, 90, of Westfield and Cape May, NJ, died peacefully surrounded by her family ...
Read more

Video: Firefighters Battle Five-Alarm Blaze in North Plainfield

October 17, 2017

NORTH PLAINFIELD — Firefighters continue to battle a five-alarm fire that began in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the vacant Villa Maria facility at 641 Somerset Street. At 10 a.m. the fire was still burning and fire companies were being rotated, continuing to operate by hitting hot spots of active fire, authorities said.

Somerset Street South was closed and ...