Year In Review - Huntington’s Fresh Faces, Cool People Of 2016

Michael “Mikey” Brannigan

  Pictured: Michael “Mikey” Brannigan.

Pictured: Michael “Mikey” Brannigan.

Michael “Mikey” Brannigan, of East Northport, spent his summer training tirelessly to represent the USA in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In September, Brannigan achieved the gold medal in the 1,500-meter race.

Brannigan, 20, who is autistic, competed in the T20 category with athletes with intellectual impairments. He crossed the finish line with a winning time of 3:51.73.

Since his win in the Paralympics, Brannigan has made several appearances back in his hometown of Northport to spread the word about accomplishing your dreams. He has visited the Northport-East Northport School District, local dining spots and had the honor of lighting the Christmas tree during Northport Village’s annual tree lighting ceremony, alongside Allie Long, who played on the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team.

Brannigan, a 2015 Northport High School grad, is currently training for the NYRR Millrose Games in January 2017 at the Armory Track & Field Center in Manhattan, where he will be running for New York Athletic Club in the Millrose mile, his mother Edith said on Wednesday.

In addition, Brannigan is preparing for the Paralympic World Championships in July 2017 in London, where he will be competing in the T20 intellectual disability 1,500-meter and 500-meter races.

While preparing for those two races, Edith said that Brannigan trains six days a week and hopes to continue his successful streak, while breaking his personal records.

Billy Lister

 Pictured: Billy Lister.

Pictured: Billy Lister.

After being diagnosed with a chronic brain disorder at age 15 and suffering a stroke that rendered the left side of his body to become paralyzed, Billy Lister, of Cold Spring Harbor, didn’t stop his athletic desire.

Lister, 34, fought through the disability and has become a successful cyclist, having recently represented the United States in the Paralympic Games in September in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Lister said on Wednesday that “Rio was an experience of a lifetime” and that “representing team USA was a sense of pride like no other.”

In track, Lister competed in the 3-kilometer individual pursuit and finished in sixth place. Before the road time trial event, Lister suffered a crash during warm-ups and fractured his left arm. He didn’t let that stop him, he said, and went on to compete in the race, where he finished in fifth place. However, due to his injuries, Lister was forced to withdraw from the 70-kilometer road race.

Since Rio, Lister has enjoyed some time off, and spent some time with his family in Cold Spring Harbor for the holidays.

Come the New Year, Lister said he will be making his way to San Diego for a few months of training, to “build momentum towards the next Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.”

He added that his long term goals include competing and representing the U.S. in the 2024 and 2028 Paralympic Games.

Allie Long

 Pictured: Allie Long.

Pictured: Allie Long.

Playing for the U.S. Women’s National soccer team, Allie Long, of Northport, joined the team to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil for the first time.

A midfielder, Long, 29, made appearances in all four Olympic games, against New Zealand, France, Colombia and Sweden. In the game against France, Long was named Budweiser woman of the match.

Long currently plays for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League and the USWNT. She has made a total of 17 appearances for the national team.

Long’s most recent appearance for the national team was in an international friendly on Nov. 13 against the Romania Women’s National Team. The USWNT won the game 5-0.

Kristen Maxwell

Twenty-four-year-old singer-songwriter Kristen Maxwell, of Huntington, burst onto the scene in 2016.

In Janurary, she was named one of the three winners in the 2016 South Florida Folk Festival Singer-Songwriter Competition. The nod came months after she released her debut album, “Crimson.”

She performed at venues across the Town of Huntington this year, including a show at the Huntington Public Library in March, an a performance at Finley’s in Huntington village this past Wednesday.

Next year, Maxwell plans to start touring; she has performances booked in Pennsylvania and Florida. She said she also plans to put out a second release next year, a six-song extended play.

Kevin Record

For 69 days this year, Kevin Record lived a simple life. His only daily concerns were having enough food and water, what kind of weather he would face and where he would rest his weary body at the end of each day in his 3,865-mile bike ride to across the country.

Over the course of his journey from Virginia to California, Record averaged 60-70 miles a day on the TransAmerica bike trail. He began on May 27 and finished Aug. 3.

Record, a 1978 Huntington High School grad, wrote in his blog, “Ride Across America,” every day during his journey.

He did it all while raising more than $14,000 for the American Cancer Society.

When Record finally hit Crissy Field Beach in San Francisco, he was greeted by his sons Kyle and Josh. He added that seeing his two boys walk towards him was a “pretty cool moment.”

Taylor Yaeger

Taylor Yaeger, who was crowned 2017 Miss Long Island Teen in July, has spent months preparing to compete in the Miss New York Teen USA pageant, which is slated for Jan. 13, 2017-Jan. 15, 2017 at SUNY Purchase.

Yaeger, 18, of Dix Hills, said Friday will consist of the interview, with questions that include her autism awareness platform; Saturday will consist of prelims, such as the bathing suit and gown portion of the competition; and Sunday is the crowning.

Throughout her preparation, Yaeger is receiving personal training at Dimensional Training Studios in Garden City once a week. In addition, Yaeger has been practicing her interview skills and walking patterns with Jacqueline Riker and Leanne Pinard, co-owners and co-executive directors of Long Island Pageants, two to three times a week.

“I’m feeling confidant with all my preparations and I’m just really excited because I love being on the stage,” Yaeger said. “I just want it to come already.”

After being crowned 2017 Miss Long Island Teen and participating in several charities, Yaeger said she’s learned a lot about different causes. Charities she participated in include the 2016 Long Island Heart Walk, the Autism Speaks Long Island Walk and Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

She also had the honor of crowning participants in the 5th annual pageant hosted by Miss Exceptional Long Island, an organization that promotes self-confidence for people with developmental disabilities.

“I love helping the community so anything I get exposed to, I definitely want to help it again in the future,” she said. “I also want other people to join me in raising awareness for all these causes.”

Yaeger is currently a freshman at LIU Post College, majoring in health and sciences. Her dream is to become an orthodontist.