Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
In Memory of Gerard "Jerry" Kelly - A Force in the Disabled Community Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 From Able Newspaper September 2016


 Gerard “Jerry” Kelly, United Spinal’s Executive Director from 2002 through 2005, died June 18. Kelly, who had brain cancer for three years, was 70.


Kelly was a paraplegic veteran who worked as Deputy Executive Director to James Peters from 1971-2002. In that role, Kelly managed the direct mail fundraising programs, worked closely with the United Spinal Association Board of Directors and the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (PVA) Board of Directors.


Kelly provided advice for members and led the organization through two difficult transitions – first as Peters’ replacement when he died and second when the organization transitioned from Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) to become United Spinal Association.


“Kelly lived the model that we hope is achievable by all of our members” said United Spinal President. and CEO. “He was well adjusted to living with a disability, integrated and active in his community, and a good boss. He was a real New Yorkers, raised in Queens and educated in Brooklyn.  “He was committed to making the world a better place for people with spinal cord injury/disease and wheelchair users everywhere. Those of us who knew Jerry have suffered a great loss. He was a friend, a leader, and a role model.”

A memorial mass followed by interment with honors at a military cemetery in the Denver, CO area was held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Porter Hospice, Denver, Colo. (www.porterhospital.org/POH/Home/), or to the charity of the donor’s choice.

 He is survived by his wife Lynn, daughter Carolyn, son-in-law Mike, and granddaughters Trinity and Faith.

Editor's Note: Wheelchair Sports Federation would not exist without Jerry Kelly.  His guidance, mentorship, friendship and belief that sports could help heal and provide opportunities for a more full life was unmatched.  He maintained or started Adaptive Sports programs in New York like Wheelchair Basketball which started in 1946 at the Bronx VA or gave the support to start multiple programs like Wheelchair Softball which started in NYC in 1999.  To this day, the annual Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament awards were named after Mr Kelly.  Wheelchair Sports Federation plans on giving out the 17th Kelly Cup in September 2017.  Mr. Kelly was also a formative force behind the non-profit, Wounded Warrior Project where he helped set up the organization in it's infancy.  It would be impossible to measure all the positive steps forward that Mr. Kelly has made possible for the disabled community in his career and the people he helped including both civilians and veterans with disabilities.  As important was all the people he mentored and trained to get them the proper tools to keep fighting for change.  We at Wheelchair Sports Federation owe a great deal to Mr. Kelly and will continue to fight and honor his life, work and his memory.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 03:45
In Memory of Johnny Johnston - Wheelchair Athlete Extraordinaire Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

by Sports n' Spokes Magazine Staff  November 2016 issue


The 12th anniversary of Johnny Johnston’s legendary wheelchair tennis victory was a more somber one this year.  Johnston, one of the main ambassadors for wheelchair tennis, died earlier this year at age 67.  A Gainesville, Fla., resident, Johnston made a major impact on the wheelchair tennis scene.  A Marine Corps veteran, Johnston was the first wheelchair tennis player to play against able-bodied players at the USA League Tennis National Championships.


In October 2004, Johnston’s Florida team, representing the USA Tennis Florida Section, advanced to the United States Tennis Association (USTA) League National Championship at the Riviera Resort & Racquet Club and Moore Tennis Academy in Palm Springs, California.

Although his Florida team didn’t win the League Nationals, Johnston and doubles partner Rich Romano won a 3.0  level men’s senior team match over two non-disabled players, taking a third set tie-breaker over Mel Brown (Topeka, Kan.) and Jon Weber (Overland Park, Kan.), who represented the USTA Missouri Valley Section. Johnston even declined playing the Quickie U.S. Open USTA National Wheelchair Championship in San Diego – one in which he’d won five previous titles – to play in the USTA League Nationals.

Johnston was just 19 years old when he was shot twice in the side and once in the arm in Vietnam in 1967, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.  Johnston became a certified teaching pro in 1989, teaching at Santa Fe Community College (New Mexico) and Westside Park in Gainesville and coaching girls’ tennis at Buccholtz High School. He also coached nationally ranked wheelchair tennis players, including Beth Arnoult and Julia Dorsett.


In 2009, Johnston was named the USTA Florida Wheelchair Player of the Year and was ranked the No. 1 wheelchair player in Florida. He was a seven-time U.S. Open Wheelchair Championships winner and was ranked as high as 24th in the world.


*Information was compiled from the United States Tennis Association Florida (ustaflorida.com) and Gainesville Tennis (gainesvilletennis.org) websites.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 03:24
Brooklyn Nets Wheelchair Basketball Team visits the NBA Nets Print E-mail
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By Tom Dowd   November 18, 2016


The Brooklyn Nets welcomed athletes from the Wheelchair Sports Federation for an afternoon practice with the NBA Nets at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn NY on October 23, 2016.


 "It's very cool to be with the professional athletes because we get a sense of what you have to do to train in order to compete," said John Hamre, President of the Wheelchair Sports Federation.  "We try to do the same things they do.  We practice on a regular basis, work on drills and it is reinforced by seeing how the professional does the same drills.  It goes a long way, especially with the new players."

 The guests watched a Nets practice and had the chance to interact with the players, coaches, and the general Manager, Sean Marks.  At the end of the day, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Justin Hamilton, Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert and Sean Kilpatrick joined in for a pickup wheelchair basketball game on the Nets practice court.



"You've got to put in a lot of work to spin yourself down and dribble" said Hollis-Jeferson.  "You can't do more than two spins and keep a dribble, so that was pretty tough.  I think I traveled a lot, but they didn't call it on me, so it was pretty cool."

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 December 2016 05:53
9th Annual Wheelchair Football Game Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


At the 9th Annual Wheelchair Football Game between the NY Jets and NY Giants at Victory Field in Middle Village NY, the NY Jets were victorious by a score of 19 to 0 on Saturday November 5, 2016.  Thanks to all our sponsors and volunteers including the Wheelchair Sports Federation, New York Giants, New York Jets, All American Deli and the NYC Parks Department for making this event possible.


Last Updated on Thursday, 01 December 2016 05:07
2nd Annual Nassau Kings Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


The Nassau Kings Wheelchair Basketball Team hosted their 2nd Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament on November 12th and 13th, 2016 at the "Yes We Can"Community Center in Westbury NY.  Six teams competed from NY, NJ, RI and PA.  The Nassua Kings defended thier title and now prepare for a Division 2 National Championship in Louisville KY in April 2017.


Thanks to all the Volunteers and sponsors, Northwell Health, Pizza Express, Western Beef, Eastern Meat Farms Inc, Complete Orthopedic Services Inc, Instacare Medical Supplies, Training for Warriors, Town of North Hempstead and Thea Lopez for making it possible.


Last Updated on Thursday, 01 December 2016 03:39
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