Be The Best Sport Finds Ways To Grow

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What started in 2011 as a small program that offered two classes on Saturdays at Unlimited Sports Action, Be The Best Sport, a nonprofit organization that provides sports and recreational activities to children and adults with special needs, has grown to offer 15 to 20 classes a week at various locations around Nassau County. Be The Best Sport hopes to continue to grow its programs with fundraising events throughout the year, including the second annual Vegas Night at the Chateau Briand on Oct. 26.

“I helped manage Unlimited Sports Action and Be The Best Sport when a parent wanted to start a program for kids with special needs,” said Be The Best Sport Executive Director Michael Furino. “Moms kind of started that program and in 2013 I fell in love with what was going on and I took it on as a passion project.”

Be The Best Sport works with various organizations across Nassau County including the Port Washington Tennis Academy, Tokey Hill Martial Arts, Unlimited Sports Action, Lutheran Church of Our Savior, the Manhasset Soccer Club Adaptive Soccer Program, the Great Neck School District and the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center in Plainview to reach as many people as possible. With over 700 kids in the various programs including basketball, karate, kickboxing, soccer, track and field, baseball, football and more, Be The Best Sport hopes to expand by offering more advanced programs for kids who keep developing their skills and work with new organizations in new areas to expand their reach.

“There are a lot of kids in the community who couldn’t experience sports without this,” said Furino. “The reason I was attracted to the program is that I made so many relationships when I played sports and kids with disabilities don’t get that socialization interaction. Any kid needs to be social in some capacity. Even the shyest of kids could be the best athletes and it helps them break out of their shell. There aren’t that many programs that do that. Now you have kids from all different backgrounds, young kids and older kids, they become friends with one another.”

Along with the many programs Be The Best Sport offers, the organization has also created an extensive volunteer program that allows about 50 people to get involved each week. Furino explained that many high schoolers have to get involved in a community service project whether it be for religious or school-related reasons, but the volunteers keep coming back because they see what Furino saw.

“Me, being an athlete growing up, I would have loved to volunteer with something like this,” said Furino. “You feel the connection between you and the child you’re helping out. These kids really do a great job and we make them understand they are doing something for that kid.”

In order to expand Be The Best Sport’s offerings, volunteer programs and partnerships with other organizations, the nonprofit will hold a Vegas Night fundraiser at the Chateau Briand located at 440 Old Country Rd. on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Residents can enjoy a fun-filled night of blackjack, roulette, craps and more. Winnings earned through casino games can be redeemed for raffle tickets to give residents a chance at exclusive prizes. The night will also offer a delicious dinner, top-shelf open bar, DJ and silent auctions. There will be an event journal comprised of Be The Best Sport program highlights and sponsorship ads. All proceeds go towards the development of new programs for Be The Best Sport.

If interested in purchasing a ticket, sponsorship, journal ad or making a donation, visit the event website at www.bethebestsport.org/vegasnight. For questions, contact Furino at 516-459-6246 or mike@BeTheBestSport.org. For more information about Be The Best Sport, visit www.BeTheBestSport.org.

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Christina Claus is a reporter for Anton Media Group and a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly and Anton's magazines.

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