Joe Testaverde, cousin of former National Football League quarterback Vinny Testaverde, suffered a serious swimming accident in 2000, which resulted in the Wantagh resident having a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
A year after the accident, Joe’s father, Anthony Testaverde started the Long Island Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center (LISCIRC) and the facility on 3445 Edgerton Ave., Wantagh continues to make a difference a decade later.
“After Joe’s injury we went to a lot of classes on spinal cord injuries,” said Anthony Testaverde. “We realized that there needed to be a place where all this information could be gathered at once. That was what started us thinking about forming LISCIRC.”
While some people contact LISCIRC about money concerns since treatments for spinal injuries are expensive, Testaverde said that some people find it helpful talking to someone in a similar situation.
“It’s not all about money,” said Testaverde. “Sometimes they just need a resource center.”
Testaverde usually talks to the family members as often as he talks to the person who has been injured.
“I tell them what hospitals they can transfer to, what specialists I know are good at what they do and even what wheelchairs are good for each particular injury,” he said.
In addition to giving medical advice, Testaverde’s resource center also donates materials that range from useful to necessary for those who have spinal injuries.
“We donate wheelchairs and beds and bring them over to people that need them,” said Testaverde.
The LISCIRC also holds several fundraising events throughout the year including a recent wine tasting reception at Martha Clare Vineyards in Riverhead. The Wantagh-based resource center also sponsors games for those with injuries such as wheelchair basketball and rugby.
Joe Testaverde is also very involved in the LISCIRC. He speaks to other young people who have similar injuries to him and has even taught swimming classes.
The recent economic downfall has made it increasingly challenging for the LISCIRC to continue raising funds that will allow it to continue offering its valuable services. However thanks to successful fundraisers such as wine tasting and casino nights, the LISCIRC is continuing to make a difference even in rough economic waters.
For further information on the LISCIRC, log onto the organization’s website.