L. to R.: Alison Luff and Terrie Magro. (Photo by Ed Shin)

Terrie Magro’s family was dealt the unthinkable in 2004: their two children both received cancer diagnoses within months of each other. Just a few months later, Michael, age 13, passed away from acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

“Cancer and children should never be in the same sentence,” Magro, vice president of the Michael Magro Foundation, said at a fundraising event last October. 

Through the nonprofit foundation, established in 2005, the Magros’ strength and compassion against a backdrop of unimaginable tragedy continues to resound. For 15 years, the family-run organization’s focus on relief for pediatric cancer patients and their families has resulted in more than $2 million directly donated towards entertainment for patients, funding for their families’ gas, food, utilities, or pharmaceutical bills, and resources assisting with patients’ re-entry into the public school system.

The foundation also funds two scholarships a year in Michael’s memory to students at Hicksville High School, where Michael would have graduated in the Class of 2009.

It’s fitting that, unbeknownst to them, the foundation’s last fundraiser, held before statewide quarantine was imposed, the annual Magro Madness event on March 7. 

“Michael’s favorite two sports were lacrosse and basketball,” his mother explained, passions to which the foundation owes its largely athletics-themed fundraisers and logo, which features a lacrosse-playing penguin bearing Michael’s jersey number: 33.

As Long Island was hit by COVID-19, the foundation instead quickly pivoted with new initiatives to support first responders, while maintaining its long-term mission and giving back to the community. Foundation staff partnered with Pampered Chef affiliates to assemble more than 400 “Blessing Bags” with personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and nonperishable food for emergency workers at hospitals across Long Island. 

Elsewhere, the foundation facilitated donations of cell phone chargers as hospitals closed to outside visitors, leaving many patients alone without familiar faces. A donation of 10 iPads to NYU Winthrop Hospital in January unexpectedly proved invaluable to those on ventilators seeking a final way to connect with their loved ones. 

Life essentials have always been a priority for the foundation, and a partnership with restaurant Piccola Bussola of Mineola not only provided patients, frontline workers, and their families with nutritious to-go meals for nine weeks straight, but also lent a helping hand to a local restaurant struggling with lessened demand.

“People are still in cancer treatment; families are struggling now more than they ever were because they may have been terminated [from their jobs] put on unemployment,” Terrie Magro said. 

Thankfully, the Michael Magro Foundation is here to help.

For more information, visit michaelmagrofoundation.com

Related Story: Michael Magro Foundation Raises Nearly $100K at Evening of Tasting and Giving

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