Inclusion on Full Display as Knight with Special Needs Turns 50

Tags: Currents, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Diocese, Brooklyn, NY, Crux, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Knights of Columbus, Queens, NY, Special Needs

By Jessica Easthope

A newly inducted Knight of Columbus celebrated a milestone birthday, and those who helped him along the way were highlighted through family and faith.

On Saturday, February 22, Robert Rubino turned 50. His party was held at the Archbishop John Hughes Council’s Headquarters in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

Robert has a developmental disability and doesn’t speak a lot, but all you need to see is the smile on his face to know how he felt about his birthday.

Linda Rubino, Robert’s mother, has been affiliated with the Knights of Columbus as a Columbiette for decades. Her son has attended many of their events at her side. Just a few months ago, Robert was inducted as a Knight.

“It means a lot to Robert — he’s been anxious all week. All I’ve heard all week is, ‘birthday, birthday, birthday’. I didn’t think it would ever happen. I guess if we dream or we try, things do happen. I’ve always had him reach for the stars, no matter how far he can get,” Linda said.

Mike Grazidei was Robert’s sponsor. He feels as if God put the two men in each other’s lives.

“My faith is stronger since I became a Knight, it’s always with me, I hope that I am a better man for sponsoring Robert,” said Mike.

Joe Sbarra, Deputy Grand Knight of the Archbishop John Hughes Council, said that through Robert, he can see what the organization is all about.

“It’s putting faith into action. It’s what we’re about as Knights. Our first principal is charity — that doesn’t always mean someone outside of the council. We can be charitable toward each other.  This is a great way to be inclusive,” he said.

Robert’s birthday is remarkable for a number of reasons, but especially so because he shares it with his sister Kathleen. They were born on the same day 10 years apart and despite that difference, they grew up like twins. To this day, they remain inseparable.

Now, there’s another family Robert belongs to: the Knights.

“They still accept him for being a person, he comes to all the events, he helps out at fundraisers as much as he can, maybe he carries a basket or something but that’s okay, that’s enough,” said Linda.

For his friends, family and now the Knights, Robert will always be enough.