By Amy Nicole Tangel
It’s not every day moments of serendipity happen, but when they do they are sure to change your life for the better. For Jimmy Reilly and his sister Bridget, serendipitous moments have filled the chapters of their lives through unconditional love; touching people’s hearts wherever they go.
This past spring’s shutdown took a toll on countless small businesses like Barntique Village in Shirley, N.Y., a one-stop antique shop filled with sheds and small old buildings rented individually to antique entrepreneurs. Although some long-time faces are no longer there this year, the village has seemingly remained resilient, and is now filled with new shops like Bridget’s own, Brigadoon’s.
Bridget (Reilly) Costello was born only one year before her 59-year-old brother Jimmy, and come from a large family of eight children. They spent their childhood together growing up in Sayville, N.Y., and as an adult Jimmy continued to live with his parents and moved to North Carolina with his mother. Their mother passed away in 2017, and in 2018, the entire family agreed it would be best if Jimmy came back to live with Bridget and her husband, Mike Costello, in Mastic, N.Y.
Jimmy was born with cerebral palsy and having been born in the 50’s, Bridget remembers it being a time where it was standard practice for a person diagnosed with such afflictions to be institutionalized. In spite of the times and the shocking diagnosis of Jimmy’s disability at the age of 2, that did not deter her parents, and she said her late father who passed in 2005, former SUNY Farmingdale Vice President William Reilly, and mother Patricia, an advocate for special needs who became the first president of the Women’s Auxiliary of AHRC Suffolk, could not have set a better example to follow in life.
“He (Dad) was such a great influence on us. He used to say, ‘Every house needs a Jimmy,’” she said.
With her own career in working to help people with disabilities, Bridget said she chose to go into the field not only to help other people, but to help her brother, knowing in her heart the day would come when they would be living life together again. Over the years, Bridget has predominantly worked at AHRC and Camp Pa Qua Tuck, but now she is spending her days being a full-time caregiver and running her dream shop with Jimmy by her side.
Growing up, Bridget said her house was like a group home filled with neighbors, cousins, friends; who were eating over, or staying over, and it didn’t matter. She said Jimmy always kept up, and now he has a plethora of friends from all walks of life surrounding him. Throughout the years, Jimmy competed in the Special Olympics and has always been a social and happy person. He loves Elton John, and his favorite song is Celebration by Kool & the Gang. His favorite hobby is crossword puzzles; he usually has one with him everywhere he goes.
The highlight of Jimmy’s life came when he went to Austin, TX, to be a part of the 2005 Farrelly brother’s film, The Ringer, starring Johnny Knoxville, Katherine Heigl and Brian Cox. The comedy surrounds the Special Olympics and tells the story of a man who joins the competition under false pretenses to help a friend in trouble, and ends up becoming a better person himself, while making lifelong friends along the way.
Bridget said the opportunity came for Jimmy when their brother, Brendan, who is a friend of the Farrelly brothers told them about Jimmy, and they asked him to come down. By the time Bridget and Jimmy got the call and arrived in Austin, a majority of the filming had wrapped, but that didn’t stop Jimmy from having the time of his life. Bridget said you can see Jimmy in the outtakes after the movie on DVD, but it was behind the scenes with the Farrelly brothers during their time on set where she saw him having the most fun; laughing with the brothers and making people smile.
“They loved Jimmy,” she said.
Bridget, Mike and Jimmy, along with their entire family, love spending time together and are life-long Mets fans, so much so that the couple even named their daughter, Sheaugh, after the former Shea Stadium. Up until this year, Mike would take Jimmy to Florida for spring training every year. In the spring of 2019, Mike, who is a Vietnam Veteran and served in the U.S. Army for three tours, was asked to send out the first pitch at the Mets final spring training game as part of a day honoring veterans in Port St. Lucie.
In Jimmy’s eyes, he took it as his day to shine and Mike wanted to make that happen, so as fate would have it when Jimmy escorted him to the mound, Mike simply handed Jimmy the ball and let him go. Before Mike knew it, he said Jimmy had the baseball positioned in his hands; throwing a strike right down the line.
The list of things Jimmy loves about life is long and full. During the summer, he is an avid outdoors person who loves to play cornhole and mini-golf and relax in the hot tub. He loves to collect sticks for firewood, and recently thanks to hurricane Isaias, he has been happily spending his days taking walks through Barntique Village and picking up countless sticks while spending time at Brigadoon’s.
“Jimmy is all about goodness. He is all about sharing, smiling and being social,” Bridget said.
She said Jimmy has always been about turning lemons into lemonade and he exemplifies that everywhere he goes. Thanks to a loving family and a supportive community, Jimmy has had every opportunity to live the fullest life possible. For Jimmy, competing in the Special Olympics and being a part of a movie that tied it all together are moments he does not forget. While reminiscing about his favorite moments of the movie, he was proud to say he still remembers his line and said, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” the oath of the Special Olympics and a motto Jimmy seems to live by.
Brigadoon’s at Barntique Village can be found at 327 Montauk Hwy in Moriches, N.Y.