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Alley Oop For Autism Puts Fundraising in Center Court

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Left to right in back row: Joel Levine, Corey Levine, Justin Resnick, Adam Seiden, Peter Resnick. Front row: Emily Levine, Debbie Levine, Alyssa Resnick, Michelle “Angel” Athenas (’19 International Special Olympics Champion 4-time Gold Medal Winner) , Marissa Resnick, Lauren Resnick

Hundreds of Long Island amateur basketballers from small children to senior citizens in five-person teams faced off in a tournament this weekend with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit Life’s WORC.

The 13th annual Alley Oop For Autism held Saturday at Jericho High School was created by Houlihan Lokey financial executive Justin Resnick, an alumnus of the school. The annual fundraiser has raised more than $1 million over the years for Life’s WORC and The Family Center For Autism in Garden City.

“Not only is everyone having a lot of fun with this afternoon of contests…but in my own way I am helping to raise awareness and priority about autism by putting this cause in basketball’s center court,” Resnick said.

The event is planned by a committee that includes Resnick’s family, community advocates Joel and Debbie Levine, as well as students from Long Island and Queens.

“This is a great annual coming together that seems to grow more popular each year,” one adult basketballer said. 

Professional athletes and other sports celebrities that previously made appearances at the event have included ESPN analyst Adam Schefter, former NBA star and current MSG studio analyst Wally Szczerbiak, former NFL star and current CBS radio host and NFL color commentator Boomer Esiason, and New York Giants football star Jay Bromley, among others. 

In addition to elected officials, this year’s special guest was Michelle “Angel” Athenas of Huntington, who recently returned from the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Dubai, where she won four Gold Medals for power lifting.

“I like to demonstrate what people with disabilities can do,” said Athenas, who has autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. “I like to encourage people to compete and do their best.”

Life’s WORC was founded by Victoria Schneps-Yunis, the president of Schneps Media, which is the parent company of Long Island Press.

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(From left to right) That’s NYS Senator James Gaughran (D-Huntington) with Peter Resnick, NY Jets star Eric Coleman, Marissa Resnick, Justin Resnick, and Miss NYS-Teen Hailey Germano.
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Pro football defensive tackle Jay Bromley (NY Giants) takes a breather in between basketball games to pose with Miss NYS ’19 Florinda Kajtazi of Yonkers, and Miss NYS-Teen ’19 Hailey Germano of Smithtown
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Champion Michelle “Angel” Athenas of Huntington displays her Gold Medals won at the 2019 International Special Olympics with Life’s WORC Board members (Left to Right) Lynne Koufakis of Plandome, Richard Ritacco of Port Washington, and Edmond O’Donnell of Melville
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Student basketballers at “Alley Oop For Autism” take time between games to shoot a selfie with Miss NYS-Teen, Hailey Germano of Smithtown
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NYS Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) visits to show support, embraced by Roslyn attorney Joel Levine (left) and Justin Resnick (right)
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That’s NYS Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (center) getting the “Alley Opp For Autism” welcome from Four-time International Special Olympics Gold Medal Winner Michelle “Angel” Athenas of Huntington (left) and Justin Resnick
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Life’s WORC/FamilyCenter For Autism Executive Director Janet Koch with Four-time International Special Olympics Gold Medal Winner Michelle “Angel” Athenas and some youthful basketballers.
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Janet Koch with Michelle “Angel” Athenas
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Life’s WORC/FamilyCenter For Autism Executive Director Janet Koch with Four-time International Special Olympics Gold Medal Winner Michelle “Angel” Athenas and some youthful basketballers.

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