Row For Autism Called For Wind


On Saturday, April 16, a beautiful but windy day greeted the Port Rowing team, Port adaptive rowers and rowing teams from throughout New York and nearby states who all came to row for a purpose, to raise awareness and proceeds for autism. The Town of North Hempstead partnered with the Friends of Port Rowing to host the 5th Annual Row for Autism. Town of North Hempstead elected officials, members of the community, and many friends and family anticipated this inspirational day. Unfortunately, “the winds were not in their favor” and the U.S. rowing referees canceled the event. Aidan McCormack, a freshman in high school and a participant in Rowing for Autism, said, “I joined Port Rowing when I heard everyone talking about it because it has become a very popular sport.” He added that being involved has been very interesting and got him fit at the same time.Portrowing042016A

Darren Gary, director of Rowing and head women’s coach, was understandably disappointed and spoke of all the effort that went into preparing for the event, but at the same time expressed a great deal of optimism and is looking forward to rescheduling the event for this summer.Portrowing042016C

Twenty-five percent of the money that will be raised in the future race will be donated to Autism Speaks of Long Island, and the remaining proceeds will go to the purchase of specialized rowing equipment for the Adaptive Rowing Program. Holly Byrne, executive director of The Friends of Port Rowing, a nonprofit organization and the funding arm for port rowing teams and programs, described the adaptive program as follows: “The rowing experience offers a unique physical outlet for teens on the autism spectrum. Participants in Port Rowing Adaptive program not only gain fitness, improve gross motor skill and rowing techniques, but also participate in team building and partnership development.” On Saturday, they would have had the opportunity to showcase their achievements.Portrpowing042016B

The Adaptive Rowing Program partners dedicated high school students with special needs teens. Demetria Vlahos, a mentor, said, “I was so upset they didn’t get a chance to row, it’s great watching them, when they achieve their goals their faces light up.” Susan Maroney spoke to how rewarding being a mentor is and how great it is to see their enthusiasm when they get on the water rowing. Aaron Bosgang said, “The adaptive rowers actually pick up on the sport faster because of their strong dedication and commitment.” Clair Dinapoli’s son Mikey has been participating in the adaptive program for three years and Julie Rooney’s son, Peter, for four years. Together they talked about their sons’ positive experiences. They spoke of the encouragement, independence, the soothing motion of rowing, the great cardio workout for their sons and the fact that the coaches make them feel “like regular kids.” The race might have been canceled, but everyone is looking forward to the next event this summer. If you would like more information, visit their website at or call 828-367-7691.



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