Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Written by Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine   


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the appointment of Victor Calise as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Commissioner Calise has served the disabled community for over 15 years, most recently as Accessibility Coordinator for Department of Parks and Recreation where he oversaw accessibility compliance at city parks and in Parks Department programming throughout the five boroughs. Commissioner Calise fills the vacancy left by the City’s first Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Matthew Sapolin, who passed away in November 2011. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities functions as a liaison between the disability community and City government. The office works collaboratively with other agencies to assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in all City initiatives by fostering greater cooperation, communication and coordination of functions and services in New York City. Jason Mischel has served as Acting Commissioner of the Office since Sapolin’s passing.



“Our City has made significant gains to improve the lives of people with disabilities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Over the past ten years, former Commissioner Matthew Sapolin helped our City to break down barriers that keep people with disabilities from fully participating in all that our great city has to offer and increase accessibility for all New Yorkers. Victor Calise has the skills and experience to continue and expand on that progress and assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in the development and delivery of City services and programs. I would also like to thank Acting Commissioner Jason Mischel for his commitment to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.”




“I am honored to be selected by Mayor Bloomberg to lead this office and serve New Yorkers with disabilities,” said Commissioner Calise. “It has been a privilege to work with the Bloomberg Administration to help make our City parks more accessible for New Yorkers. Improving the quality of life of individuals with disabilities and working to ensure our City is accessible for all New Yorkers have been important goals of this Administration. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of former Commissioner Mathew Sapolin, we have made great strides towards those goals. I hope to follow his lead and continue making New York a great city to live, work and visit.”


“Victor Calise’s successful spearheading of innovative accessibility initiatives at the Department of Parks and Recreation and his work on behalf of disabled New Yorkers have prepared him to lead the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities,” said Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román. “As commissioner, he will make New York City more accessible for the millions of people with disabilities who live in or visit our great city.”


As Accessibility Coordinator at the Parks Department, Commissioner Calise focused on ensuring that City parks, programs and services provided by the Department are available to New Yorkers of all abilities in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Calise provided technical assistance in the design of parks and developed a training curriculum to familiarize Parks employees with accessibility issues. During his tenure, Calise established an Accessibility Advisory Committee within the Parks Department, the committee provided community input on the development and evaluation of new facilities, programs and services. Calise also implemented a transition plan that indentified and provided remediation for current barriers to accessibility throughout New York City Parks and facilities.


Prior to joining the Parks Department, Commissioner Calise held several positions at the United Spinal Association, a non-profit organization focused on disability rights that aims to improve the quality of life for Americans living with spinal cord injuries. As the Director of Sports Marketing, Commissioner Calise coordinated nationwide adaptive sports programs for United Spinal members and organizations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society. These programs included adaptive field days, wheelchair softball, hand-cycling and sled hockey programs. Through these programs people with disabilities improved their health and well-being through physical activity. During his time at the United Spinal Association, he established four children’s teams in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area and founded the Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament in conjunction with the New York Mets and Wheelchair Sports Federation that is held yearly at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. Commissioner Calise began as Recreation Coordinator at the United Spinal Association where he provided recreation opportunities for disabled veterans in the VA Hospital System in the tri-state area.


Commissioner Calise began his work with disabled New Yorkers as coordinator of the Spinal Cord Injury “DO IT” program at Mount Sinai Medical Center where he worked with spinal cord injury patients to facilitate the transition from the inpatient hospital stay to the outpatient setting in their journey to reintegrate successfully into their community.


An avid athlete, Commissioner Calise was a member of the USA Paralympic Sled Hockey team and represented the USA in the 1998 Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan. He volunteers for the Wheelchair Sports Federation and is frequently a guest speaker on the topics of spinal cord injuries, physical therapy and adaptive sports.


Commissioner Calise earned his B.S. from St. Johns University and his M.A. from Queens College. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and two daughters.


The replacement search was led by Nathan Leventhal, Chairman of the Mayor’s Committee on Appointments, and Andrea Shapiro Davis, Special Advisor to the Mayor.


 High-Resolution Photos Are Attached & Additional Photos Are Available on the Mayor’s Office Flickr Page at http://www.flickr.com/nycmayorsoffice

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 00:00
Tri-State Regional Track & Field Games (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


On Saturday May 19, the New York City Parks Paralympic Sport Club Track & Field team took part in their first nationally certified competition. Six athletes competed on behalf of New York City Parks at the Tri-State Regional Wheelchair and Ambulatory Games at Lincoln Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Tri-State Games featured almost 100 Paralympic athletes from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The New York City athletes competed in the throwing events and made an outstanding showing in their first official competition. Mandeep Sighn, from Manhattan, was first place in the Adult Men’s shot put for class F55. His younger brother, Malkeet Sighn, swept his events, taking first place in the shot put, discus and javelin in the under 18 age group for class F57. Faye Ross, also from Manhattan, was first place in the shot put in the Futures age group of class F36. Ivan Alevante from Manhattan was first place in the shot put and discus in the under 20 age group for class F35. Ivan was the first youth athlete to join the track team when it began in 2009. Two athletes from Queens also did extremely well. Kenny Richetti was first place in the shot put, discus and javelin in the under 18 age group of class F 35. Luis Laureano was first place in all three events in the under 14 age group for class F 37.

We at the NYC Parks Paralympic Sport Club are very proud of all the athletes and are thankful to the Tri-State Wheelchair Athletes Association (TSWAA) for hosting our group at this great event. It was a tremendous way to end the season.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 May 2012 16:42
3rd Annual Paralympic Sport NY Track & Field Open Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

On Thursday May 17, 2012 the Third Annual Paralympic Sport New York Track & Field Open was held at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. This event was sponsored by the New York City Parks Department and involved 17 schools from the New York City Department of Education.  This year’s track meet hosted 181 student athletes with physical disabilities who ranged from kindergarten to high school seniors. Schools came from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

Student athletes competed in 100, 200 and 400 meter runs and relay races on the track. There was also a slalom obstacle course. In the field, future Paralympians competed in the long jump, discus, shot put, and javelin throw and bocce ball.  

This was the first competitive track & field meet for many of the athletes. The entries included Athletes with Visual Impairments, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Traumatic Brain Injuries and Strokes, Muscular Dystrophy, Dwarfism, Spinal Cord Injuries and Hearing Impairments.

The meet organizers would also like to thank students from Children’s Workshop School, TASS Middle School, and Regis High School for a terrific volunteer effort. Tremendous thanks also to the NYC Department of Education, NYC Parks, Wheelchair Sports Federation, US Paralympics, City Parks Foundation and the Randall’s Island Park Alliance.

 Congratulations to all the athletes.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2012 01:24
PVA Handcycling Clinic (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) hosted a Handcycling clinic for Veterans and disabled adults on Wednesday May 15, 2012 at Fort Totten NY.  Over 30 riders came out to try the sport of handcycling and learn from experienced riders.  With the help of 10 volunteers from New York City Parks and Recreation, United Spinal Association and Wheelchair Sports Federation, all had the chance to try out the specialized equipment and take a ride along the Cross Island Parkway.

 For more information about upcoming PVA Handcycling Clinics, please visit  http://www.pva.org/site/c.ajIRK9NJLcJ2E/b.6306009/k.B4BC/Adaptive_Handcycling_Clinics.htm

The Bench 5K Play Fit-Stay Fit! Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


10 Handcyclers and 4 Push Rim Racers participated in the 2012 Bench 5K Run/Walk to benefit Play Fit-Stay Fit! on Saturday May 12, 2012 in Stony Brook NY.  Play Fit-Stay Fit! is a comprehensive wellness program for child survivors of cancer and their families that provides fitbess, psychosocial, and nutritional support for the entire family.

Top handcyclers were Ricardo Corral, Billy Hannigan and Cristobal Rivera. 

For more information about Play Fit-Stay Fit! 

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 May 2012 03:40
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