Being the No. 1 individual fundraiser for last year’s annual Polar Plunge to benefit the New York State Special Olympics motivated Erin Lipinsky to beat his record. To kick-start his goal, the Special Olympics athlete held a community car wash at Vigilant Engine Hook & Ladder Co. this past Sunday, Aug. 21.
The 40-year-old, who has been a member of the Great Neck Spirits basketball team since he was 17, came up with the idea for the car wash and spoke at a firehouse meeting to enlist the firefighters’ help.
Lipinsky has lived in Great Neck his entire life. Everyone seems to know him—and he clearly has lots of fans. Lipinsky put up flyers all over town in the hopes that the community would support this event. His goal was to raise $400 for the Special Olympics.
“He walked up and down Middle Neck Road, put flyers in store windows and handed them out to people he knew. We stick together in Great Neck,” said Joan Lazaunik, a secretary at North High, who Lipinsky calls “Coach.” Lazaunik is coadvisor to the Key Club with Guidance Counselor Jordana Cohen, who coaches Lipinsky’s Special Olympics team, which plays on Friday nights at Great Neck North Middle School during the school year. Volunteers, teachers, coaches and school faculty all pitch in.
Everyone, including Lipinsky’s sister, Tara, shared the details of the car wash on Facebook, which helped publicize the event. The car wash cost $10 per car, which included a barbecue, though many attendees contributed more. With more than 100 generous attendees coming out to support the cause, the car wash raised more than four times what Lipinsky had hoped. About $1,600 was collected as the day wound down.
With the help of the Alert and Vigilant firefighters, Merchant Marine Academy, volunteer Vigilant EMT Yalda Shamash, Superintendent Louis Massaro of the Department of Public Works and food donations from Deli on the Green and Gino’s, the community really pulled together to help Lipinsky reach—and exceed—his goal. Vigilant Fire Chief Joshua Forst and Assistant Fire Chief Justin Sachmechi, who has coached Lipinsky on the Spirits for 9 years since he volunteered as a high schooler, were behind Lipinsky all the way, affectionately referring to him as “Buddy.” Alert firemen Jim Sanders and Mike Greene donated the food for the volunteers and Kimmy Molina helped collect the money and took pictures.
A grateful Lipinsky said, “Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.”