Family members, friends, schoolmates and other supporters of Abdul Bird, the Long Beach Middle School student who remains hospitalized after an SUV hit him while he skateboarded on Lido Boulevard last month, helped raise about $3,000 at a fundraiser for him Tuesday.
Howard Appel, a.k.a. "Halftime Howie," hosted his regular Tuesday radio show, Broadcasting on the Beach (WGBB 1240), at Ribeye Cheesestakes in Island Park to help hype the fundraiser for the 14-year-old boy'sfamily. Appel interviewed his mother, who had just returned from visiting him at a hospital in Port Jefferson, where he is slowly recovering in a four-step system after he suffered head trauma.
“I can’t believe there are so many good people here,” Abdul’s mother told Howie. “I’m so excited. I’m at a loss for words.”
Asked about her son’s status, she said he is still only able to say a few words, and he has trouble with his thoughts, which she notices from the text messages he sends to his friends. “Some of it doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Appel asked her to recall the day of the accident, on June 19, and she remembered when she got the dreadful phone call. “I lost my mind and I’m still trying to get it together just for him and my other kids,” she said.
Miguel Rodriguez, Bird’s wrestling coach at the middle school, was also invited to talk on air. Appel noted that the family’s trips to visit Abdul at the hospital on the North Shore are a major expense in gas. “We need a lot of support,” said Rodriguez, who noted that Abdul is one of five children, including an 8-month-old. “There are a lot of expenses that the family is going through right now to go visit him and take care of him and the rest of the kids.”
Rodriguez, who coaches the Gladiators, an elite youth travel team of the Long Beach Wrestling Program that he established in 2008, told Patch that he visited Abdul a few days before Tuesday. “He is slowly talking and remembering everyone,” he said. “He’s still having trouble talking and he can’t walk yet.”
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Abdul’s fellow Gladiators were well represented at the event, wearing black t-shirts bearing a print of a lowercase “a” inside a Superman triangle. Abdul was their captain during the 2011-12 season, earning All County honors with the squad, as well All State honors wrestling for Long Beach Middle School, a team that went undefeated. He was also a standout running back and linebacker on his school’s football team.
“Abdul is a really good person,” said Gladiator Matt Maquet, 13, when Howie interviewed a few teammates during the show. “He’s great to everyone. And I hope he get’s better soon.”
Rocco Passafuime, a Long Beach resident and movie reviewer on the radio show, read a poem he penned for Abdul, titled “This Bird Will Fly Again.” “It may seem now that I am beat/But soon I will make you see/That there’s no black cloud hanging over me,” Passafuime read.
The event also featured Benoir and the Long Beach All Stars Band performing an original tune, "If I Could Only Hold You.”
Damien Walsh, owner of Ribeye Cheesestakes, said about his fellow Long Beach residents joining hands for this fundraiser: “When there’s a kid in need, we always try to come out and help out as best we can.”
Appel called the event a great team effort that included everyone from Walsh to his radio staff to Rodriguez to Ray Adams, LBHS’s varsity wrestling coach, who helped spread the word about it.
“And the fact that over $3,000 was raised is proof that there is no other community like Long Beach that always comes through to help out one of their own,” he said.