Strongman draws strength from ‘Camp Sunshine’ kids

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teve Extance can pull a truck with his teeth, but he won’t be the strongest person at an upcoming fundraiser in Coney Island.

That distinction goes to the kids with life-threatening illnesses who will benefit from Extance’s feats of strength.

The July 27 event is organized by dock builder and former New York Police Department homicide detective Louis Scarcella. It seeks to raise money for Camp Sunshine, which provides medical, psychological and social support to sick children and their families.

All services at the camp, located in Casco, Maine, are free of charge.

“It’s heartbreaking to see these poor kids,” he said. “To me, the event is a no-brainer.”

Scarcella, the former president and still a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, said his hope is that Sienna Cavallo, a nine-year-old cancer survivor, will be able to come down and watch the event in person.

She was last with the Polar Bears on New Year’s Day for their annual plunge into the icy waters off Coney Island.

“Just looking at her, it just makes you stronger,” Scarcella said.

For the past two years, the Polar Bears have raised $60,000 for the camp.

Local 1456, the dock builders’ and commercial divers’ union, has already pledged $1,000, and Thor Equities has donated the space where the event will take place, behind Steve’s Grill House.

Extance, who grew up in Bay Ridge and now lives in Brewster, NY, said his inspiration to became a strongman came from Coney Island legend Joe Rollino—a former carnival strongman.

“He said, ‘you can do good for people with this,’” Extance recalled.

The 6’0”, 220-pound dockworker said he is planning to pull a truck with his teeth, bend coins with his teeth, bend rebar with his nose, and lift a 1,000 dumbbell.

“I’ll probably also do a thing with a bed of nails,” he remarked.

He suggested spectators or anyone interested in contributing pledge money depending on how far he can pull the truck, or how many times he lifts the dumbbell, for example.

He said neither his teeth nor his jaw are superhuman.

Besides, he added, his jaw-dropping acts of force have nothing to do with strong choppers. “It’s my mind,” he said.

Extance did make one confession: “I haven’t seen my dentist in years.”

The fundraiser will take place on Sunday, July 27, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Stillwell Avenue and the Boardwalk at the beer garden, behind Steve’s Gill House. For more information, go to or call 917-362-8185.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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