The life of Garden City resident Mike Tenaglia, who was diagnosed with a very rare and deadly form of cancer 22 months ago, is a miracle and he plans to spread the effects of his miracle with others through a foundation he formed this past January after he was cured. This Saturday, Aug. 5, at noon, those wishing to help the MIRACLE Foundation can do so by participating in the Year 2000 Wiffleball Homerun Derby at St. Paul's field on the corner of Stewart Avenue and Hampton Road in Garden City.
The Homerun Derby will begin with the ceremonial first pitch being thrown out by baseball legend Ralph Branca. The derby is divided into a Junior Homerun Derby for age 12 and under, mothers, senior citizens, etc. and a Senior Homerun Derby which is open to children over 13 years of age, dads, brothers, relatives, friends, etc. Everyone is invited to either enter the derby or sponsor a participant. The participants will receive 10 pitches for a $20 donation, with trophies being awarded to the highest scoring participants following the derby. All the proceeds will benefit Tenaglia's MIRACLE Foundation.
Tenaglia explains that Dan Donnelly, who is an avid sportsman in town has hosted this wiffleball tournament for a few years and through it has raised money for different organizations and this year selected the MIRACLE Foundation as the recipient of the funds raised.
"This is an exciting event and a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people touched by this terrible disease," stated Tenaglia. "Events like the Year 2000 Wiffleball Homerun Derby, provide another means for us to raise funds that will make a significant impact in the fight against cancer."
The MIRACLE Foundation is called that, number one in recognition of the fact that it is a miracle that Tenaglia survived and number two as an acronym for Making Inroads Against Cancer's Lasting Effects. He and his wife began the foundation because when he was being treated for cancer of the esophagus, he decided that if he survived he would find a way to give back. The mission of the foundation is to relieve the discomfort and hardship of individuals diagnosed with cancer and reducing the cancer death toll through care, scientific research and education. Another mission of the foundation, according to Tenaglia, is to improve care, locally in the community. Improving care locally, said Tenaglia, may range anywhere from helping people who may need assistance by providing them with transportation to their treatments, helping them prepare meals for their family while they are having treatments, or providing them a listening ear, from somebody who has been in a similar situation.
Education and awareness are also important aspects of this foundation. "The great thing about this tournament is that it will hopefully create more awareness of how many people it affects," said Tenaglia. "Maybe, educating people a little bit will help get a few people to get diagnosed with cancer early, because 95 percent of all cancer patients diagnosed at Stage 1 survive. We like those odds and we figure through awareness and education we will hopefully get more people to have PSA tests, or mammograms, or whatever. Too many people are fearful of bad news but they really need to do it because it's [cancer] is so prevalent in Nassau County particularly."
The community's response to this foundation, according to Tenaglia, has been, "phenomenal." The foundation's first fund-raising event, a golf outing, was extremely successful, with over 325 people attending the dinner portion of the event. Tenaglia believes so many people have responded so generously because cancer has touched so many people's lives in one way or another.
"We want people to feel free to use us as a resource for how to be treated, where to go, sometimes just talking to somebody who's been there. We are available to anyone in the community who needs help, be it financial or otherwise," concluded Tenaglia.
Anyone wanting more information about the MIRACLE Foundation can access their website at: www.miraclefoundation.com.