Ricky Palermo has spent nearly 30 years working tirelessly to help find a cure for spinal-cord injuries.
On Dec. 4, UMMC and the Jerome Foundation will recognize his efforts when he is given the 25th Annual Health and Humanitarian Award at a luncheon at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia.
Both foundations are honoring Palermo for three decades as a national research participant, and for his regional advocacy and local fundraising on behalf of curing spinal-cord injuries.
Wes Audsley, CEO of Genesee/Wyoming counties' YMCAs, cited Palermo's tireless efforts to find a cure for spinal-cord injuries when choosing him as a nominee. Palermo was injured 28 years ago in an accident which left him paralyzed from mid-chest down.
"This humble man has contacts and influence in all corners of our community, based solely on the content of his character and the sincerity of his work. Everyone takes Ricky's call, everyone contributes to Ricky's cause, and everyone feels better for the experience of knowing and working with Ricky," said Audsley in a press release.
The Miami Project is the world's most comprehensive spinal-cord injury research center and is based at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. It was the inspiration for Palermo's drive to raise funds and awareness for those with spinal-cord injuries.
In 1997, Palermo and his family started the Ricky Palermo Foundation. Since then, it has raised $500,000 in support of the Miami Project, United Memorial Medical Center and the Genesee/Wyoming counties' YMCAs.
Palermo is a member of the Board of Directors of the Genesee County YMCA, where he has developed an exercise program for those with spinal-cord injuries. His foundation offers free rehabilitative exercise opportunities for people suffering from paralysis, regardless of the level of injury. It also offers counseling and hope, says Audsley. The program is funded by contributions to Palermo's foundation.
The Health and Humanitarian Luncheon is open to the public. Reservations can be made by contacting the United Memorial Medical Center Foundation at 344-5301. Seating will be limited so early reservations are recommended.