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Ricky Palermo

July 26, 2019 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ricky Palermo Foundation, Ricky Palermo, batavia, sports.

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More than 100 young soccer players turned out today for the annual clinic at the Batavia Sports Park hosted by Ricky Palermo and the Ricky Palermo Foundation.

April 4, 2019 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bill Walton, Ricky Palermo.

Here is the video of Bill Walton honoring Ricky Palermo, which was played at last night's Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions Dinner, where Palermo received the Major Donald Holleder Award.  We didn't have the video available when we published our story earlier today but it's a great presentation speech and we thought you should see it.

Previously: 'You are the champion' basketball legend Bill Walton tells Ricky Palermo at awards dinner

February 13, 2019 - 11:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rochester Press-Radio Club, Ricky Palermo, news, notify.

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Press release:

Ricky Palermo’s tireless efforts to raise money for spinal cord research will be recognized when he receives the prestigious Major Donald Holleder Award at the 70th annual Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions Children’s Charities Dinner, Wednesday, April 3, at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

The award is named after Holleder, a former Aquinas Institute and U.S. Military Academy football star who was killed in a Vietnam War battle while attempting to rescue several wounded members of his battalion. It is presented annually to an individual who exhibits the character, courage and achievement displayed by Holleder.

Palermo, a former three-sport most valuable player at Byron-Bergen High School, was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1981. Since 1997, he and his foundation have held an annual golf tournament and auction that has raised more than $1.4 million. The funds have been contributed to The Miami Project, a pioneering spinal injury research organization, as well as to local organizations, such the Batavia YMCA bike program for people with neurological challenges.

Palermo will be honored at the dinner, which features 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs as the Coca-Cola Sports Personality of the Year and other award winners.

Tickets for the dinner are $135, with a table of 10 available for a discounted price of $1,250.  To reserve tickets or packages, call 585-340-1460. Credit cards or money orders are accepted as payment. 

The club gratefully acknowledges its corporate sponsors: Coca-Cola of Northern New England, ConServe, the Democrat and Chronicle, ESL Federal Credit Union, the Rochester Red Wings, and the Rochester NY Sports Commission.  

Photo: File photoRicky Palermo with his cousin John Curtiss.

July 22, 2018 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ricky Palermo, news, sports, soccer, batavia.

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More than 90 children from age 4 to age 8 turned out at the Batavia Sports Park on Friday for Ricky Palermo's annual soccer clinic.

This was the 15th year Palermo hosted the clinic.

"It grows a little bit every year and that's exciting," Palermo said.

The clinic helps raise awareness about spinal injury, Palermo said, and shows the kids that even a person with a spinal injury can still do things.

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July 19, 2018 - 4:23pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Ricky Palermo, batavia, news.

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After being paralyzed in a motor-vehicle accident at the age of 21, Ricky Palermo, 58, could be bitter.

Yet, he considers himself blessed.

One reason is the support team of family and friends who not only help him day to day, but the dedicated committee members who have volunteered to make the annual Ricky Palermo Spinal Injury Golf Tournament a success.

The tournament scheduled Aug. 4 will be the 22nd, and Palermo hopes it won’t be the last.

He fears as people age and lives get harder, the people who have helped him all these years won’t be able to keep the pace. He cites as an example losing his brother-in-law Joe last year.

The thought of his benefit tournament dying out is almost unbearable. In its 21 years, the tournament has raised more than $1.2 million for spinal injury research.

Annually, money from the golf tournament is donated to four causes – the Emergency Room at United Memorial Medical Center, where Palermo was treated; Strong Memorial Hospital’s Spinal Unit; the Batavia YMCA, where Palermo regularly exercises on a Functional Electrical Stimulation bike; and the Miami Project in Miami, where doctors and research scientists are working to find a cure for spinal injuries.

Palermo was one of the first six patients to take part in the Miami Project after it was established in 1985, just four years after his accident.

A key figure in founding the Miami Project was NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, whose son Marc had been injured playing football. The Buoniconti family vowed that progress in spinal injury research would not be slowed because of lack of funds. To date, their foundation has raised one-half billion dollars.

One of their fundraisers is the Great Sports Legends’ Dinner in New York City, to which Palermo is sent tickets every year.

“I am so blessed that they think of me,” Palermo said.

Another reason the Miami Project is so special to Palermo is because his niece, Batavia native Dr. Annie Palermo, has just been hired there. One of the studies he will be involved in will be led by Annie.

The first study he participated in proved to doctors that someone with a spinal cord injury could stay in shape with proper exercise. Several times a week, Palermo goes to the YMCA, where he rides the Functional Electrical Stimulation bike, which his golf tournament helped fund.

Palermo hopes the golf tournament will continue to be a success. In the past, golfers have come from eight different states. Many plan their vacations around the event, he said.

The first year they set a goal of $5,000, but actually raised $11,500.

“That’s when we knew we had to try again,” Palermo said.

Last year’s tournament raised $74,000. They have had as many as 224 golfers participate in one year.

“We’ve met so many caring, wonderful people,” Palermo said. “I consider myself lucky.”

Terry Hills, where the tournament takes place, has been so good to them, Palermo said. While the scheduled tee-off isn’t until 11 a.m., some start at daybreak to get everyone in.

Genesee Community College is also a big supporter, hosting the dinner, auction and show in the evening.

Cost for lunch, golf, and dinner is $120 per person. Just hors d'oeuvres, dinner and the show is $50.

The show will include a video and a presentation by two doctors from the Miami Project. The video will feature footage shot of Palermo when he was in Miami.

There will also be a live and silent auction and raffles.

Donations of cash, prize items, and auction items are welcome.

To register to golf or for information on making a donation, contact Palermo at (585) 739-8522.

Photo (by Howard Owens): Ricky Palermo with his cousin John Curtiss.

February 19, 2018 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ricky Palermo, Ricky Palermo Foundation, news, notify.

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For the first time in awhile, Ricky Palermo -- whose own charity has raised more than $720,000 for spinal injury research -- was the center of attention at a fundraiser on Sunday night at T.F. Brown's.

"People don’t realize what it’s like when you’re at a fundraiser and it’s directed at you," Palermo said. "It’s kind of a weird thing. We all want to help other people and we do but when it’s directed at you, it doesn’t seem real.

"I’m pretty damn lucky, as you can see. It’s not just my relatives, though we’re a huge crowd. It’s my relatives and friends from all parts of my life that makes it all fun."

There were more than 300 people at T.F. Brown's to make donations so Palermo can receive experimental treatment at the Miami Project that, if successful, could give him more mobility.

Palermo, who was a three-sport star athlete at Byron-Bergen High School in the 1970s, suffered a spinal injury in an automobile accident 37 years ago and became paralyzed from the chest down.

For 15 years, Palermo and family and friends, have used the Ricky Palermo Foundation -- with an annual golf tournament and other events -- to raise funds for spinal injury research. Now it's Palermo's turn to take advantage of some of the scientific advances led by the Miami Project.

"My goal in life — everybody thinks it is to walk again — but my goal in life is to be able to take care of myself," Palermo said. "What they’ve got going on, it’s no longer a whacky dream. It’s pretty much a possibility. That’s my goal. If I could recover enough to actually take care of myself, I would consider that — not a victory, but a big, big, big advance toward victory."

The Miami Project was cofounded in 1985 NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti after Buoniconti's son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game. A team of 250 doctors and researchers led by cofounder Dr. Barth A. Green have since made breakthrough discoveries in the field of spinal injury treatment. 

"A lot of people thought the book was closed (on spinal injury research), but it's not," Palermo said. "The Miami Project is getting people back up on their feet. Yes, their injuries are minute compared to mine, but (people with) slight injuries today are getting back up on their feet."

Wade Bianco, a good friend and a business partner with Ricky's brother, heard that Palermo had a chance for treatment at the Miami Project but that it would cost $10,000 plus he would need to bring two nurses with him. So Bianco got together with friends and family members at breakfast and said they should organize a fundraiser.

They all agreed. Bianco called Rick Mancuso at T.F. Brown's, who quickly agreed to host the fundraiser, donate the food and reduce the price of drinks at the bar.

Others donated items for auction, including four Yankee tickets, Sabre tickets, and Jim Kelly donated autographed footballs and a book.

It just so happened the fundraiser fell on Bianco's birthday.

"I can’t think of a better birthday present than to help somebody else, especially Ricky," Bianco said.

In all, the event brought in about $30,000.

Bianco said he was awed by the response and chalks it up to the special nature of the Batavia community.

"I’m from Long Island," Bianco said. "I moved here. I couldn’t believe what a great place this is. It’s just an awesome place to raise kids, to live -- my wife says 'don’t you want to go Florida?' I’ll go for two months. My friends are in Batavia. I really don’t want to go a long time. I’ll take February and March when I retire, but I don’t want to be gone. I want to hang out with my friends and my friends are in Batavia."

Palermo said he has long felt grateful to the local community for their support, their help, and for just being there for him. It all started 37 years ago when he was injured and has never stopped. He said he feels lucky, very lucky, to have so many great people around him.

"It’s an incredible feeling to know that when you go places that everybody there wants to do something for you," Palermo said. "It makes me feel good about our society. There are so many good people out there.

"They don’t get the credit. All you see is the bad stuff. All I can say is if people want to see what's positive in life, get involved with some of these people that support us. It’s incredible. It wakes you up in a good mood and it puts you to sleep in a good mood."

August 5, 2017 - 1:54pm

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The Ricky Palermo Spinal Injury Golf Tournament is today at Terry Hills.

As part of today's event, there was a golf ball drop in honor of Joe Fragnito, who passed away this past year.

Tonight, there's a dinner, a silent auction, and regular auction.

Info and photos submitted by Darcy Catino.

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Joe's daughter Jamie Peskor and Ricky's sister Patty.

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June 9, 2015 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Ricky Palermo, Patrick Gallivan.

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Press release:

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) announces that Western New York native Ricky Palermo is the recipient of the New York State Senate Liberty Medal for his contributions to the treatment of spinal cord injuries. The Batavia resident has helped raise more than $1 million for research and awareness.

“Ricky is a lifelong friend and a true inspiration to all New Yorkers,” Gallivan said. “He has dedicated himself to helping others and brings hope to those impacted by spinal cord injuries. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the Liberty Medal.”

Palermo grew up in the Byron-Bergen Central School District where he was a star athlete, earning MVP honors in three separate sports. In 1981, he was injured in an automobile accident, which left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Over the past 18 years, Palermo’s annual golf tournament has helped raise funds for research, awareness and treatment of paralysis. He also works closely with The Miami Project in its ongoing effort to treat and ultimately cure paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries.

In 1985, Barth A. Green, M.D., and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti helped found The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis after Nick’s son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game. Today, The Miami Project is the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury (SCI) research center, and a designated Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Ricky is very deserving of this great honor,” Marc Buoniconti said. “He and the entire Palermo family have been such an integral part of The Miami Project team for so many years, and what they have done in order to advance our research is nothing short of remarkable. The contributions of Ricky and the entire Batavia community are directly changing the course of medical history, and are helping to facilitate cures for paralysis that will someday soon hopefully get me, Ricky and the millions worldwide who are living with paralysis out of their wheelchairs."

Palermo is also active with the YMCA of Genesee County.

“There is no one more deserving of the Liberty Medal than Ricky Palermo,” said Greg Watson, chief financial officer GLOW YMCA in Batavia. “Because of Ricky’s passion for helping others, he led the efforts to bring a specialized bike to the Genesee County YMCA allowing individuals with spinal injuries to exercise. It is the only bike of its kind in the area and is a blessing to the many individuals that have benefited from it. Ricky’s positive attitude is an inspiration to everyone he comes into contact with and we are honored that he is part of our YMCA family.”

“I would like to dedicate this Liberty Award to my incredibly supportive family because none of this would be possible without them,” Palermo said. “I also have a close group of friends, like Senator Gallivan, that I would refer to as family.”

The Liberty Medal is one of the highest civilian honors that a New York resident can receive and it is awarded to individuals who have merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts and achievements on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.

Photo: Ricky Palermo with (L-R) Sam Pontillo, Jackie Janes, Jim Palermo and Senator Patrick Gallivan. 

July 10, 2014 - 4:03pm
Event Date and Time: 
August 2, 2014 - 7:30am to 10:00pm

18th Annual Charity Tournament for Ricky Palermo's Spinal Injury Research Golf & Dinner Extravaganza will be held on August 2nd, 2014.

Golf Tournament includes: 18 hole scramble with assigned tee times from 11:00am - 1:00pm. Plus -- early morning tee times available (approximately 7:30am till 8:15am). 4 person teams with 3 divisions; mixed, male & female. Maximum of 56 teams/224 golfers. Lunch is included. Raffe tickets, and lots of prizes.

November 5, 2009 - 7:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, YMCA, UMMC, The Jerome Foundation, Ricky Palermo.

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.

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