By Karly Eberly
The Great Neck Spirits put party hats on for a mid-season celebration hosted by Temple Beth-El with plenty of pizza, games, music and prizes on Sunday, Nov. 5.
What began 26 years ago as a one-time basketball event for special-needs athletes, has continued on, blossoming into a team of dedicated athletes and high school volunteers training almost every Friday evening at Great Neck North Middle School.
Under the guidance of coaches Alan Someck, Ed Fernbach, Diane Polland, Jordana Cohen, Laurie Rubin-Haber, Jackie Mazur, Stacey Parisi and Don Williams, the practices promote deep friendships among the athletes, volunteers and coaches, while teaching skills and physical fitness.
Last year, the Great Neck Spirits began a partnership with Community Mainstreaming Associates (CMA), a Long Island–based nonprofit committed to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead meaningful, productive lives within their communities.
When asked how his experience with the Great Neck Spirits made him feel, former special-athlete Gary replied, “Happy and good inside,” smiling ear to ear. Although Gary no longer practices with the team, he still comes to all the team’s social events, a testament to how profoundly the Great Neck Spirits has impacted his life.
This feeling of love is felt by the special athletes and volunteers alike. Adam Haber, a former volunteer who stopped by to see the team, reflected on his time with the Spirits, saying, “ It was a really great experience meeting people who wanted to volunteer and get involved in the community.”
As the athletes were leaving the party, prizes in hand, their most common departing phrase was, “Can’t wait till the next practice.”
The team, coaches and volunteers are so grateful to Temple Beth-El for welcoming the athletes to the Great-Full for the Great Neck Spirits social event.
For information about volunteering with the Great Neck Spirits, contact Alan Someck at firstname.lastname@example.org.