Written by Daniel J. Fardella Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00
Cruising on the Delta Lady from Captree Harbor into the Great South Bay at dusk on July 12, there was dancing to DJ Charles Henry Entertainment’s cool spins while old coworkers from St. Francis Hospital got reacquainted after more than 30 years. Many other guests at the fundraiser savored the food while making new friends on the high seas.
I found myself chatting with Greg Combatti, uncle of the victim of an incurable disease who started it all – my young friend Michael Magro. We stared at the beautiful sunset and talked about Michael and about the immense respect and caring that we had for his parents, Paul and Terrie Magro, our hosts that night for this, one of the many Hicksville-based Michael Magro Foundation fundraisers since his departure.
Greg engaged another voyager on the far side of the boat. Left alone, the dusk in a positive way persistently reminded me of Michael Magro, the youngster that I last saw in the intensive care unit at Winthrop Hospital in July 2004 before he succumbed to leukemia, leaving us all feeling helpless but indeed closer in our sorrow. This was the essence of what was to become a noble effort on the part of the Magros to help others who find themselves in the same nightmare.
And so we resided and celebrated Michael and his current peers and their families once again, here in 2012 after several years of effort on the part of Terrie and Paul and their dedicated board of directors. We all continue to see each other, sometimes more than 300 people strong, at “fundraising” events that provide as much as $50,000 or more per year to recipients who make use of the money in research issues, clinical supplementations and any number of familial contributions. Besides the founders, directors and the contributors, another crop of often overlooked heroes have made the miracle of human compassion possible, those are the “vendors” and professionals who offer their talents, skills and time to this worthy effort.
In this particular event coordinated by Lori Ames of PR Freelance, Inc., the Delta Lady of Captree Harbor had been offered up gratis by Captain Phil Berdolt. Caterer Frank Genovas of Francesco’s Italian Restaurant donated the food. The event, thanks to all this generosity, placed more than $4,300 into the Michael Magro Foundation for the needs of other children and parents experiencing the kind of challenge and heartbreak that the Magros first encountered nearly a decade ago when Michael passed away.
Deliberately, I saved the most remarkable aspect of this story for last. Prior to the illness of the Magro’s oldest of two sons back in 2004 was preceded by another unexpected challenge. Their younger son Marc had a different form of cancer - Hodgkins Disease – which Marc survived. Now a tall, handsome and well-spoken young college man, brother Marc holds the same love and memories for his brother that many of us have, but both Marc and his parents experienced so much more because of their roles in Michael’s life.
The Magros, all three of them in the immediate family, have had a huge influence on others since Michael’s departure. They have made me think of the courage it takes to be selfless, and the tremendous assets that these unselfish acts have on fellow human beings – a rare observation indeed and one lesson not wasted on any person who takes life and love for granted.
Editor’s Note: Daniel Fardella, RRT, is a professional writer, therapist and filmmaker with two children. Fardella has worked with Terrie Magro since 1974, first at St. Francis Hospital and later American Homecare Corporation, a company Fardella founded.