This afternoon, the Williamsbridge Oval played host to the third annual “Challengers At Montefiore” Sports Day. The sports at the event consisted of bowling, an obstacle course, bag tossing and ball throwing—normal park sports. The only thing different was that all of the contestants competed in wheel chairs.
Dr. Maya Therattil, the director of the Spinal Cord Injury Medicine and Rehabilitation service at Montefiore Medical Center and the head of the “Challengers At Montefiore” Spinal Cord Disorder Support Group, organized today’s “Sports Day” with the help of her support group.
Dr. Therattil decided to create the sporting event to provide a “fun, active, competitive and safe” activity for her over 150 spinal cord patients.
Many of Dr. Therattil’s patients, like David Mereno, said they “look forward to this every year.”
Cecilia Lugo, the group leader of the “Challengers at Montefiore,” said that all of the different games are her favorite part of “Sports Day.” Lugo went on to explain, “a lot of [spinal cord patients] don’t go out because of the wheelchairs and because of fear.” That’s why the Challengers give out trophies and encourage everyone with disabilities to come out and participate on “Sports Day.”
Dr. Therattil expressed the importance of physical activity for her patients. “We needed a sporting event,” she said.
Before Dr. Therattil created the annual “Sports Day” at Williamsbridge Oval, she started the first comprehensive spinal cord injury and disease service at Montefiore Medical Center five years ago. Since then, Dr. Therattil has amassed a large group of patients, most of whom could not help but shower her with praise.
“About four or five years ago we started going to Dr. Therattil and it was the best thing that happened to us,” said Stephanie Petrizzini, a mother of a son with a rare spinal cord disease. “She is an excellent, excellent doctor.”
Petrizzini went on to say Dr. Therattil is “always there” for her son, even on weekends and holidays.
“She has been a godsend,” said David Moreno. “She is very compassionate and I look forward to seeing her.”