During a time where staying home is for the greater good, people are finding innovative ways to spend time together and keep boredom at bay. Breaking out those once-neglected pots and pans is one way people are maintaining their sanity.
New York State Industries for the Disabled and Special Olympics of New York are teaming up to make that even more fun. The organizations, which specialize in support and resources for individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities, are releasing a cookbook inspired by athletes’ and donors’ favorite recipes.
The cookbook, aptly named “50th Anniversary Recipe Book” to celebrate SONY’s 50th anniversary, can be purchased at https://sony2020.itemorder.com/ through Dec. 11. All proceeds support NYSID and SONY programs.
Stacey Hengsterman, the president and CEO of SONY, said the cookbook is a fun way to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage families and friends to get in the kitchen and create. Hengsterman contributed a summer ravioli, a recipe she loves but one her athlete son, Alex, 16, won’t eat.
“Alex and I love cooking together and we have done a few Facebook live streams showing the process in the kitchen when we work together,” Hengsterman said. “There’s such a focus on living a healthy lifestyle for individuals with disabilities and we want to promote that to our athletes and community.”
Hengsterman was elated to see the finished product. She’s especially appreciative of the wide range of recipes featured, including ones from celebrity donors Al Roker, Buffalo Bills snapper Reid Ferguson, WWE stars Paul Wight and Drew McIntyre, and Jacquelyn Jablonski and Shannon Shape. Also featured is Special Olympics International chairman Tim Shriver and CEO Mary Davis. The cookbook features recipes for the most health-conscious and for those who like to kick back with a delectable dessert after a long day. She added that she and Alex are planning to make some recipes on their Facebook live streams.
“You know these recipes are amazing because of each contributor’s repertoire, this is the recipe they found worthy of publishing,” Hengsterman said.
Clifton Park resident Colette Lawless is another contributor. Her sons Ed, 27, and Anthony, 23, are long-term SONY athletes. Lawless said her main goal with her peanut butter cookie recipe was to create something simple enough for any home cook.
“I tried to make these cookies as healthy as I could, and Ed came in the room and told me I should put a Hershey kiss on each one,” Lawless said. “I told him it was supposed to be healthy and he said ‘yes, healthy with a chocolate kiss on each one.’ He loves trying all of these foods.”
Lawless said SONY has helped her sons tremendously. Lawless adopted the men when they were 4 and 5 years old. SONY has given the men a sense of pride and a lesson that not everyone wins in life.
“In many sports, people say everyone wins and gets a trophy, but just because my sons have intellectual disabilities does not mean they aren’t capable of learning rules,” Lawless said. “Ed and Anthony are aware that not everyone wins, and these sports allow them to learn rules and embrace the idea that sometimes, you lose in life and you have to learn from those experiences and move on.”
Lawless said SONY has also given her the ability to be just a parent for a few fleeting moments; as a parent of men with intellectual disabilities, she’s a caretaker and “on” 24/7. She and her husband are able to sit in the stands and root their sons on, giving coaches and mentors the opportunity to work with them in a different capacity. The program has made her whole family better people, and her and her husband better parents.
NYSID president and CEO Maureen O’Brien said the cookbook is also a great way for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities to learn repetition, a skill that is vital to their education. NYSID partners with SONY on job training and placement for its athletes.
“The beautiful thing about this collaboration is we were able to take our strengths and mold them together for this project,” O’Brien said. “We were able to help SONY with things like the e-commerce website. This project was born out of our mutual need to enrich our community.”
O’Brien said her job gives her great passion and understanding for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. While individuals with these disabilities are sometimes met with roadblocks, NYSID and SONY are able to create a worthwhile experience through their shared programs and support for both athletes and their families.
“The goal of this project was to create something healthy and fun for our community and represent the mission of our organizations,” O’Brien concluded, “and I think we did a great job making that come to life.”