Former NY Islander Bobby Nystrom wearing a suit crouched down behind three elementary school age students – two female and one male – sitting in wheelchairs in front of a The Viscardi Center logo wall. The Viscardi Center’s leading fundraiser, Celebrity Sports Night, celebrated its 47-year partnership with the New York Islanders. New York Islanders hockey legend Bobby Nystrom was joined by current defenseman Ryan Pulock and former players – John Tonelli, Butch Goring, Steve Webb – in signing autographs and posing for photos with guests to raise essential funds for Viscardi’s life-changing educational and employment programs and services for people with disabilities. Watch this short video about how the relationship began with a simple game of wheelchair hockey.
The annual fundraiser held on May 18 consisted of a cocktail reception where guests were able to mingle with sports legends past and present, including Olympic figure skater, Emily Hughes and former New York Jets Wesley Walker and John Nitti. Guests enjoyed an elegant dinner and silent and live auctions containing a collection of unique items and packages. The 2023 event featured seniors on the Viscardi wheelchair basketball team being awarded medals from New York Islanders players in attendance and a heartfelt performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by a group of students from the Henry Viscardi School.
The Viscardi Center honored Mr. Islander himself, Bobby Nystrom, with a Lifetime Achievement Award and Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, with the Corporate Leadership Award. This year’s Roy Campanella Award recipient was Steph Roach, the world’s first CrossFit Level 2 Trainer with Cerebral Palsy and who attended Henry Viscardi School for several years.
The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profit organizations based in Albertson, NY, provides a lifespan of services that educate, employ, and empower people with disabilities. Its programs and services include Pre-K through High School education (to age 21), school-to-work transition services, vocational training and job placement, digital accessibility services, entrepreneurship, veteran employment and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses.