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Letter: Wrong to deter wheelchair athletes

Members of the Aviators, a softball team made

Members of the Aviators, a softball team made up of wheelchair-bound players. Credit: Newsday/Jessica Rotkiewicz, 2010

I was surprised and disappointed that the Syracuse Chargers Track Club originally prohibited two 12-year-old boys in wheelchairs from participating in the Fourth of July 10-mile road race in Cazenovia ["Race's sponsor bars 2 boys in wheelchairs," News, July 3]. After a protest, they were allowed into the race.

Wheelchair athletes have always been welcome to participate in events staged by the Greater Long Island Running Club. More to the point, one of the goals of our club has always been to include children and adults with special needs in our events to the extent possible. Indeed, we offer free entree to the special-needs youngsters and their coaches in the Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program in our events.

Runners and the organizations that support them have a special obligation to encourage athletics for everyone, and to be inclusive rather than exclusive. That's what we try to do, and the Chargers should do likewise.

Mike Polansky, Plainview

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Greater Long Island Running Club.