Democrat Photo by Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY ATV Association President Ellis Garcia speaks to the audience during Saturday night’s banquet at The Eldred Preserve. Along with his fellow ATV association members, Garcia is joined at the podium by the Omogbai family, left, and the Houghtaling family, right. Members of the Omogbai family include Jennifer, who is holding son Daniel, her older son Franklyn, who is behind her, and husband Timothy, far left. Members of the Houghtaling family include Mitchell, who is holding daughter Brianna at far right, and wife Melissa, who is holding daughter Caitlyn.
Sullivan County ATV
$20,000 For Kids
By Rob Potter
ELDRED Thanks to the Sullivan County ATV Association, two local families do not have to worry quite so much about their medical bills.
At their annual banquet last Saturday night at the Eldred Preserve, Sullivan County ATV Association officials presented two checks, each in the amount of $10,000, to the parents of two Sullivan County children who are suffering from serious medical conditions.
Half of the $20,000 the ATV Association raised from its eighth annual Charity ATV run that was held on September 9 went to Mitchell and Melissa Houghtaling of Parksville, who are the parents of 6-year-old Brianna Houghtaling. The other half was presented to Timothy and Jennifer Omogbai of Rock Hill, who are the parents of 9-month-old Daniel Omogbai.
Brianna Houghtaling suffers from Hydrocephalus, which causes fluid to collect on the brain. When she was an infant, surgeons implanted two shunts in her skull to drain the excess water from her brain.
Melissa Houghtaling noted that Brianna underwent a total of seven operations before celebrating her first birthday.
Brianna and her parents make regular trips to Albany Medical Center for checkups.
“We have a very good doctor there,” Melissa said.
Melissa said that Brianna began kindergarten at Liberty Elementary School last month. Brianna receives speech, occupational and physical therapy at school.
“She’s doing very well,” Melissa said of her daughter. “Everybody at school knows her. She is a very happy child and is always smiling.”
Like Brianna, Daniel Omogbai is seen by doctors at Albany Medical Center on a regular basis. Daniel was born 23 weeks premature this past January and suffers from pulmonary and respiratory problems.
“He’s coming along now,” Jennifer Omogbai said.
In addition to making the check presentations to both families, ATV Association President Ellis Garcia and Secretary Tony Poli thanked all of the business and property owners who helped make last month’s charity run so successful for the 410 participants who came from all over the county as well as elsewhere in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Garcia and Poli had formal certificates of appreciation for those business proprietors and land owners, many of whom were in attendance.
Among those recognized were the Excelsior Hunting Club, Iroquois Hunting Club, Ten Mile River Boy Scouts of America, Gerry Foundation and Robert Meyer of the Sullivan County Department of Public Works.
Garcia and Poli also recognized the efforts of Doug and Brian Fraser, who provided food and drinks for the hundreds of ATV riders, Doug Heinle, a fire policeman who helped the riders cross local roadways, and Harold Russell, who allowed the association to use his property along Route 17B for the start and finish of the ATV run.
Several local businesses, including Fosterdale Motor Lodge, Ken’s Cans, Wyde Lumber, Smoker’s Choice, Mountain Candy, Sullivan First Recycling, Party Master DJ, Smith Tent Service, Sullivan Septic, were also lauded by the ATV association members.
Garcia especially noted the assistance of the property owners.
“It couldn’t happen without you,” he said. “Eight years now we have been doing this and the property owners have been very gracious.”
“This year’s event was outstanding,” Poli commented. “Thanks to all of you, we were able to help two children.”
Garcia and Poli also thanked their fellow ATV Association members for all of their planning and hard work to make the eighth annual charity run so successful. Among those they praised were Vice President and founding member Michael Cooper, Treasurer Susan Poli, Event Coordinator Ed Houman and Joe Tinari Jr., who designed and maintains the association’s Web site.
Both the Houghtaling and Omogbai families were very appreciative of the donations made by the ATV Association.
“I would like to thank the Sullivan County ATV Association and all of the property owners for holding this event,” Jennifer Omogbai said. “I would encourage other property owners to allow their land to be used next year so the association can help even more children. We deeply appreciate this donation.”
“This money helps a great deal,” Melissa Houghtaling said. “I really can’t think of anything else to say except thank you all very, very much.”
Since holding the first charity run in 1999, the Sullivan County ATV Association has raised a total of $110,900 which it has donated to several local families to help them with their children's’ medical bills.