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Stony Brook Olympians prepare to compete

Members of the Long Island State Veterans Home

Members of the Long Island State Veterans Home Olympian Team sing the national anthem at the team's pep rally. (May 3, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

A crowd of about 100 gathered at the Long Island State Veterans Home on Tuesday to cheer on a group of Olympians to hopeful victory.

The Stony Brook nursing home held a pep rally to celebrate the training efforts of a group of patient-athletes who will compete in the Golden Games at St. Joseph’s College on May 13.

Residents from the facility cheered on their athletes to the sounds of the Stony Brook University Pep Band while Wolfie, the Stony Brook University mascot, danced through the aisles fist pumping and shaking hands with the athletes.

Team coach Joe Jackson, 59, said the team practices about three times a week and is particularly strong in basketball and wheelchair races, especially because all 17 members of the team are in wheelchairs.

"We get a lot of practice," he said.

The annual event encourages participants to train throughout the year, and the games include wheelchair relay, basketball, volleyball, bean bag toss and bowling.

Jackson said the games are a lot of fun, and everyone enjoys being part of the team.

"We like the activity," he said. "And it's a challenge."

Eva Burdner, 82, team cheerleader, waved a pompom proudly during the pep rally.

"They're going to win all the way," she said.

The LISVH won 17 medals in the 2010 Golden Games and is striving to beat its own record this year, said Doreen Guma, marketing director for the facility.

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