Excitement Builds as Metro Tournament Planning Gets Underway

May 17, 2005

More than 1,300 athletes and coaches to compete at Riverbank State Park NEW YORK– Special Olympics New York (SONY) is busy preparing for the 17th annual Metro Tournament on Saturday, June 4, 2005 at Riverbank State Park in New York City. Over 1000 athletes will compete from the New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley regions. Joining them will be more than 300 coaches and 700 volunteers.

The Metro Tournament is the largest single day event put on by SONY. Competitions will be held in five events: Aquatics, Basketball, Power Lifting, Track & Field and Volleyball. Athletes competing at the Metro Tournament can advance to the state-level Summer Games, held this year at Hofstra University on Long Island from June 16-19.

“This is a wonderful event that brings the New York City community together,” said Neal Johnson, President & CEO of Special Olympics New York. “The athletes, coaches, volunteers and corporate community all contribute to make this day a success. For athletes who are unable to attend our multi-day competitions, this event provides them the opportunity to compete within a larger playing field and get the recognition they deserve.”

The Metro Tournament will begin with Opening Ceremonies at 10 a.m., with competition starting at 11:30 and continuing until 4 p.m. at Riverbank State Park at 145th Street and Riverside Drive in Manhattan. The Olympic Village will have music, games, arts and crafts, along with many other events throughout the day. It will be a full day of exciting competition and camaraderie.

The 2005 Metro Tournament sponsors include: New York Lottery, OppenheimerFunds, GoldmanSachs, Ross Stores, Mattel, Met Life, Blimpie, PricewaterhouseCoopers, United Federation of Teachers and Merrill Lynch. For more information on Metro Tournament or for a full schedule of competitive events in your region, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org or call 800-836-6976.

2005 Metro Tournament Shines at Riverbank State Park

June 7, 2005

More than 1,200 athletes from the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley were in attendance, accompanied by more than 350 coaches and approximately 800 volunteers.

Despite a gray and drizzly morning, the 2005 Metro Tournament at Riverbank State Park turned into a beautiful, sunny day by the time Opening Ceremonies began. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) provided parade marshals, a color guard, bagpipe and drum corps, and accompanied the Parade of Athletes into the track and field arena.

New York Lottery’s Yolanda Vega was her usual upbeat and charismatic self as the emcee of Opening Ceremonies. Several elected officials also came out to cheer the athletes on; Congressman Charles Rangel, Speaker Gifford Miller, Councilmember Robert Jackson and Commissioner Ken Podziba. Opening Ceremonies highlights included the P.S. 194 Chorus singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (with many athletes dancing along,) and a touching tribute to longtime SONY friend, advocate and hero Peter Loeb. After a moment of silence, Marla Greenspan, former SONY board member, presented a memento to Mrs. Jeanette Loeb, complete with a ceremonial shot from a starter’s pistol.

After the torch was run into the field and the cauldron lit, Board Member Anthony Bifaro proclaimed “Let the Games Begin!” Athletes competed in aquatics, basketball, powerlifting, softball throw, track & field and volleyball. The facilities at Riverbank provided a lovely backdrop against the Hudson River, for the 9th annual Metro Tournament. There were many wonderful athlete accomplishments, contagious enthusiasm and exciting moments in every sport.

As part of their “Impact Day,” Deloitte & Touche volunteers joined a large contingent from the FDNY to help with set-up on Friday.

Key sponsors included Goldman Sachs, Mattel, New York Lottery, NYSUT, New York Sports Club, Oppenheimer Funds, Ross Stores and United Federation of Teachers. Blimpie provided lunches and Coca Cola beverages again this year.

Inaugural Peter Aquilone Memorial Tournament a Success

January 31, 2005

Aquilone’s commitment to athletes remembered The Jacob Javits Center once again played host to the New York City Regional Tournament, but this year’s tournament took on a different tone, as athletes, coaches, volunteers, staff, family and friends remembered Peter Aquilone’s life-long commitment to Special Olympic athletes. Peter worked for Special Olympics New York (SONY) for more than two years and in that time he helped the organization grow in immeasurable ways. One of his crowning achievements was bringing the regional floor hockey tournament to the Javits Center and getting the trade unions to help set up the event.

Unfortunately Peter passed away last year, but his drive to bring top-notch competitive opportunities to SONY athletes will never be forgotten. With Peter’s spirit in mind the SONY Board of Director recently approved a measure renaming the annual Regional Floor Hockey Tournament the “Peter Aquilone Memorial Floor Hockey Tournament.”

On Saturday, January 22nd, athletes from the New York City Region took part in the competition. After Opening Ceremonies, SONY President and C.E.O. Neal J. Johnson officially announced the renaming of the tournament to the “Peter Aquilone Memorial Floor Hockey Tournament.” Special Olympic athlete and Global Messenger Rodney Hankins spoke of his relationship with Peter, and how Peter helped motivate him to shrive for higher goals.

Peter’s father Edward Aquilone spoke on behold of his family, recounting a memory he shared with his son at one of the first tournaments, in which an athlete tracked down Peter to congratulate him for giving the athlete the opportunity to compete. Edward Aquilone said that was always Peter’s number one goal.

Despite the snow storm that hammered the Northeast, which kept some teams from traveling, those who were there enjoyed a competitive afternoon. Once the games were complete the players received their awards and quickly got on buses and started the long and snowy rides home. “Peter was on the minds of everyone at the tournament,” said SONY President and C.E.O., Neal J. Johnson. “His dedication to our athletes will not be forgotten and now his memory will be in the hearts of countless athletes, volunteers, coaches, and staff for many years to come.”

SONY Tournament Renamed to Honor Former Employee

January 11, 2005

Peter Aquilone Memorial Floor Hockey Tournament to debut. Special Olympics New York’s (SONY) Board of Directors recently approved a measure renaming the annual Regional Floor Hockey Tournament, held at the Jacob Javits Center, to the “Peter Aquilone Memorial Floor Hockey Tournament”.

Peter Aquilone, originally from Brooklyn, worked for Special Olympics New York for more than two years producing competitions and special events. Throughout his personal and professional life Peter was dedicated to athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Peter made many contributions to Special Olympic New York athletes but the most profound impact involved the annual Regional Floor Hockey Tournament at the Javits Center. “Pete was the catalyst in getting the Javits Center to host this event and getting the trade unions at the center to provide their support,” said Special Olympic New York President and CEO Neal J. Johnson. “Pete was also able to get the carpenters local at the center to design and build the hockey courts still in use around the state today,” said Johnson. “Thanks to Pete’s tireless commitment our athletes are able to participate in a first class competition.”

The “Special Olympics New York Peter Aquilone Memorial Floor Hockey Tournament” will be held Saturday, January 22nd at the Jacob Javits Center. The opening and naming ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the tournament. More than 300 coaches and athletes will compete and more than 200 volunteers, staff, and spectators are expected to be on hand.

After leaving Special Olympics New York to go to law school, Peter went to work for the National Hockey League where he was the Manager of Center Ice & Media for the NHL’s Television and Media Ventures Group.

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