Oswego Paralympian Joe Bereyni arrived back in Oswego Monday afternoon to a surprise homecoming in the Oswego Home Depot parking lot.
The organizer of the event, Village President Brian LeClerccq, wanted none of the credit. “All of the credit goes to the athlete,” he said.
Berenyi competed in five cycling events in the 2012 Paralympics in London and took home a gold, silver and bronze medal.
Family and friends turned out to welcome and congratulate Berenyi on his success.
“We are so proud of him,” said his uncle, Dick Hansford of Yorkville.
“He’s a cool kid,” said aunt Ann Barnes. “And we can call him a kid,” she laughed.
Berenyi, arriving with his brother-in-law Eric Prater from the airport, was all smiles, despite not having slept in about 48 hours.
“Do you want to see the medals?” he asked the crowd of supporters after receiving plenty of hugs and congratulations.
Berenyi said the medals were heavy and “bounce off your ribs” but he put all three medals on to lots of cheering. He won the gold in the individual 3km pursuit, silver in individual time trial and bronze in the mixed C1 to 5 team sprint.
“Joe’s been a great son-in-law,” said Terry Kimes, father-in-law. “This is a phenomenal, once in a lifetime event. I’m behind him 1000 percent.”
Kimes and his wife, Kay, of the Boulder Hill area, followed everything they could of Berenyi’s coverage. Kimes said the stadiums were continually packed during the Paralympics just as they were during the Olympics and the support was outstanding. “I think that spirit should be present every day,” said Kimes.
Berenyi was an accomplished athlete in high school and always worked hard, said Kimes.
“He can do more than some can with two arms,” said Kay. “He can do anything”
“Joe’s the kind of guy if you don’t’ like him, something is wrong you,” said Kimes.
Several police cars and fire trucks were on hand and provided an escort to , where Berenyi was greeted with fanfare from the marching band and color guard and hundreds of students cheering and holding signs.
Berenyi stopped by to talk to many students, some with special needs or disabilities, to show his medals and pose for pictures.
“It’s a really big honor to have him come here,” said junior Rali Valkanova. “It’s very inspiring.”
The honor guard of fire trucks and police cars escorted Berenyi home.