Town Honors Special Olympians and Camp Counselors

The Town Board honored two Special Olympic athletes with proclamations last week, and presented awards to camp counselors.

Angel Athenas, who has autism, recently won four gold medals at the 2018 Seattle Special Olympics and broke the women’s deadlifting record at the New York Special Olympics in Albany. Supervisor Lupinacci said, “Her teammates call her their secret weapon and ‘Angel Dust.’” Athenas was also honored for her volunteer work as she volunteers at a horse stable, helps clean a church, and aides at an assisted living home. “Angel is very excited for the 2019 USA games and is looking forward to qualify.”

Danielle Birnbaum, a young woman with Down syndrome, represented New York State in the 2018 Special Olympics in Seattle, Washington, where she won a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle and a bronze medal in the 100-meter butterfly. “She has shown tremendous determination, courage, and strength and is constantly pushing and inspiring others.” said Luppinacci. Previously, Birnbaum competed in the New York State special Olympics where she won a gold medal for the 100-meter breast stroke and a silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle. “We know she will achieve greatness and cannot wait for her to compete again.” said Lupinacci

Gary and Nicole Erta, whose son Sean, died in a snowtubing accident in Elwood, presented the Sean Erta Outstanding Playground Counselor Award to Alexandra Howett and Michael Robertson. Erta was an honors student, a member of his school’s soccer team, and an exemplary counselor at the Town’s camps. The scholarship is given to two town camp counselors who best exemplify the qualities Sean exhibited.

Howett is a counselor at Southdown playground where she started out as a camper when was seven years old. Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said, “Alexandra is dedicated, hardworking and has been a positive example to her campers who enjoy having her as a counselor.”

Robertson, who also started out as a camper, works at Bellerose playground. “He has been a role model to campers and counselors. We are very, very honored to congratulate Alexandra and Michael as the 2017 recipients of the Sean Erta Outstanding Playground Counselor Award.”


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