We wrote about Glen Ridge-based wheelchair racer Tony Nogueira last week after he won a race in Maine. A few days later, we spotted him and his friend Rodrigo Ferrari tooling down Ridgewood Ave. A day or so after that, we saw the two of them enjoying a pleasant afternoon with their boys (each has two) in Carteret Park and stopped to chat with them. (In the picture, Nogueira’s on the left, wearing the red shirt.)
It turns out that Nogueira, who lost the use of his legs after falling from a tree in 1987, met Ferrari just a few months ago. Somebody doing work in Nogueira’s house knew Ferrari and thought the two would hit it off. They did. Ferrari, who lives in Newark, became a paraplegic when he fell from a roof while working construction. Under Nogueira’s tutelage he took up wheelchair racing. Not only do the two men share the same disability, they have boys almost exactly the same ages and a common language. Nogueira is from Portugal, Ferrari from Brazil.
The two of them were resting before a drive up to Cape Cod to compete in the Falmouth 12K road race yesterday. Nogueira won the wheelchair men’s competition for the third straight year, bettering his 2003 time by 10 seconds.
“Thank God for wheelchair racing,” said Nogueira, 36. “Wheelchair racing was a second opportunity for a life.” Nogueira, who races almost monthly and does marathons, trains on Ridgewood Ave. and in Brookdale Park. But as much as he and his friend enjoy the sport, they have different plans for their sons. “They’re going to be soccer players!” Nogueira said.