For more than three decades, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital has drawn wheelchair athletes of all ages from the tri-state area and beyond to its Wheelchair Games. Every autumn, Burke’s campus transforms into a hub of sportsmanship and camaraderie, where wheelchair athletes compete in table tennis, track and field events, and a slalom obstacle course.
“It’s like having the Paralympics in your backyard,” said Wheelchair Games Co-Chair Tracey Bogart. “It truly is an inspiring event and every year Burke is proud to host such an amazing group of athletes.”
On September 28, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital will host its 34th annual Wheelchair Games on its main campus, 785 Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. Field events start at 9 a.m. and track races start at 1:30 p.m. The competitive categories include: Future (6 and under), Junior, and Adult/Master divisions.
Along with the Games, Burke is also hosting its newly re-vamped Heels & Wheels 5K Road Race that will now include walkers, on the same date.
“We want to make sure everyone can participate,” said Heather Massimo, director of the Fitness Center at Burke and co-organizer of the 5K. Brought back in 2012 after a seven-year lapse, the Heels & Wheels event last year allowed wheelchair athletes and runners to compete together. This year’s event will be more inclusive, allowing even more participants a chance to enjoy the race. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and the race kicks off at 10 a.m.
The race path starts at the hospital entrance. Racers will follow a route down Mamaroneck Avenue to Bryant Avenue, and through the Gedney Farms area that surrounds the perimeter of the hospital. Participating athletes for Heels & Wheels will be placed into groups according to ability and age.
Be ready, bright and early on Sept. 28 to take part in a fun-filled day of sports and entertainment including live event broadcasts from WHUD and WFAS; face painting; a silent auction and chance raffles; and other carnival games. Both the Wheelchair Games and Heels and Wheels are free for spectators and Burke invites all community members to come out and support these remarkable athletes.
The entry fee for the Wheelchair Games is $25, but financial assistance is available. The fee for Heels & Wheels 5K participants 16 years and older is $30; for children ages 6-15 the fee is $15; entry is free for children under 5. The cost includes an event T-shirt, numbered bib, and timing device.
For additional information, visit www.burke.org or call 597-2850 for Wheelchair Games details and 597-2578 for Heels & Wheels. For those who would like to sponsor an athlete or donate to the games, call 597-2849. If you would like to volunteer your time and assist the day of the games, call 597-2581. All volunteers receive a free T-shirt and lunch. Children volunteers must be at least 12 years old.
Burke Rehabilitation Hospital is a private, not-for-profit, acute rehabilitation hospital. Founded in 1915, it is the only hospital in Westchester County dedicated solely to rehabilitation medicine. Burke offers both inpatient and outpatient programs for those who have experienced a disabling illness, traumatic injury or joint replacement surgery. Burke is both an acute rehabilitation hospital and medical research center.