Skip to main content

Ricky Palermo Foundation

Batavia Downs announces dates for Oktoberfest, Family fun day, and more

By Press Release
weiner dog race batavia downs 2018
Photo from teh 2018 Wiener Dog Race at Batavia Downs.
Photo by Howard Owens

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the on-sale dates for several upcoming events taking place this fall at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.

On Friday, September 22, the Ricky Palermo Foundation Comedy Night will be held inside Park Place. Attendees will receive admission to a night of comedy, a free drink, a buffet dinner, and $25 in Free Play. Tickets can be purchased at

Monday, September 25 will be Batavia Downs’ Oktoberfest featuring music from Fritz’s Polka Band. This free event will run from Noon - 3 p.m. The Homestretch Grill doors will be open and several Polish food specials will be available.

On Saturday, September 30, the 3rd annual Vodka & Gin Fest, presented by Deep Eddy Vodka and Ford’s Gin will take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. For $40, attendees will have access to vodka and gin sampling as well as grazing stations and receive $25 in free play as well as a free program and $5 wager on that evening’s races at Batavia Downs. Designated Driver tickets will also be available. $35 early bird tickets are now on sale at for a limited time.

WBBZ’s popular show, Polka Buzz, will tape their show inside the Park Place Room on Thursday, October 5 – tickets and details will be available at a later date.

Batavia Downs’ famous Family Fun Day & Wiener Dog Races will take place on Sunday, October 15. Family-related activities will also take place including on-site entertainers, kettle corn stand, pumpkin decorating for kids 15 and under, carriage rides, and pony rides will take place from 12 - 2 p.m. with the wiener dog races commencing at 2 p.m. The time was moved up to accommodate guests who want to make sure they don’t miss the Buffalo Football game at 8:20 p.m. that evening.

The Batavia Bacchus Wine Festival will be happening on Sunday, November 5 from 1 - 3:30 p.m.  For $35, attendees will have access to wine sampling from local and national wineries as well as grazing stations. All attendees will receive $25 in free play. Designated Driver tickets will also be available. Tickets for this event will be on sale later in the fall. This event will take place well ahead of that night’s Buffalo Football game at 8:20 p.m. giving attendees time to watch the game after the event.

“Our event schedule remains jam-packed for the fall,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We pride ourselves on providing a diverse variety of events for the people of Western New York.  Our guests will find that these events are fun, well run, and affordable.”

Tickets for other previously announced September events like the Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift Tribute show, the Elvis Tribute Show, and the Silent Disco are on sale now at


Jimmy Sturr performing at Batavia Downs for Polka Buzz earlier this year. Photo by Howard Owens
Jimmy Sturr performing at Batavia Downs for Polka Buzz earlier this year.
Photo by Howard Owens

Ricky Palermo to speak at Genesee County Retired Educators luncheon

By Press Release
Ricky Palermo

Press Release:

The Genesee County Retired Educators (GCREA/RENY) will hold its spring meeting and luncheon on Wednesday, May 17 at noon at the Byron Presbyterian church. 

The speaker will be Ricky Palermo, who will bring members information about the Ricky Palermo Foundation for Spinal Cord injury Research. A collection will be taken to benefit the foundation. 

For information or reservations call 343-7346. If a member did not receive a newsletter, he or she may call 278-8558 to get one.

File photo by Howard Owens. Ricky Palermo in 2019 at one of his annual soccer clinics.

Sponsored Post: Ricky Palermo Foundation: Awareness continues to open doors because of Palermo Foundation

By Lisa Ace


Awareness continues to open doors because of Palermo Foundation

It is always an emotional boost for me to see how much comfort our foundation has brought to people that have become newly injured with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Just imagine yourself being away on a California vacation with your wife and two children and then the most unexpected catastrophe happens as you find yourself floating facedown because you just broke your neck in the ocean. You don’t know which hospital is the best for treating a SCI so, you are at the mercy of the first responders. Just when you find yourself with nowhere to turn, you get a phone call from The Miami Project (MP) to Cure Paralysis (the #1 spinal research center in the country). The reason that the MP has called you is because one of your friends was at the BRUCE in the USA concert that was put on by our Ricky Palermo Foundation. This friend got in touch with me and I in turn got in touch with the MP, and this family was able to have a plan that has many of the answers you were hoping for. This is the second time that this situation has come up this year. Last winter, a cousin of a close friend who lives in Minnesota suffered a SCI while snowmobiling. This family called their cousin that is a big supporter of our events and he was able to contact me and then I was able to put them in touch with the MP. Then the MP guided them to the nearest SCI rehab. I wish my family had a place like the MP to call when I was first injured in 1981, but the MP did not exist until 1985.

This year our events consisted of our annual soccer clinic, which brought in about 80 kids to learn skills from BHS girls varsity soccer coach Roger Hume. In early June, we hosted our largest event yet, as we had 1400 people attend a BRUCE in the USA concert at Batavia Downs And Gaming (a tribute band to Bruce Springsteen). This concert has really helped our main goal of spreading awareness of Spinal Cord Injuries, and then in early August, we hosted our 26 the annual Ricky Palermo Spinal Injury Golf Tournament. We are proud to say that these three events helped us donate more than $84,000 to our same four beneficiaries: UMMC’s Rochester Regional Health, Strong Memorial Hospital, Batavia’s GLOW YMCA (SCI) Bike Program and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. This brings our 26 year grand total to $1.8 million donated!

It was once again a thrill for me to bring our donation to NYC for the MPs 37th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner hosted by The Buoniconti Fund. This year’s dinner was held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Everyone in attendance (nearly 1000) was treated to a delicious dinner, a Beatles tribute band, several speeches by sports celebrities and an incredible update given by The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis’s CEO Dr. Barth Green, and leading SCI research scientist Dr. Dalton Dietrich.


Your friend, Ricky Palermo
Follow us on Facebook – the Ricky Palermo Spinal Injury Tournament And Fundraiser to Cure Paralysis.
A Healthy, Happy Merry Christmas to everyone!!!


'Bruce in the USA' concert at Batavia Downs Gaming generates $20K for Ricky Palermo Foundation

By Mike Pettinella


Ricky Palermo couldn’t have been more appreciative this morning as he accepted a $20,000 check from Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., to support the Ricky Palermo Foundation for spinal injury research.

The funds represent ticket sales, food vendor and chair rental fees from the "Bruce in the USA" concert that took place on June 10 at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

Palermo credited Ryan Hasenauer and the marketing department staff at WROTB for making the concert happen and the community for getting behind it.

“We've never done anything this big before,” he said in front of a small gathering in the casino lobby. “I can’t say enough how much we appreciate it. Every time we had a question either Henry or Ryan or one of the girls would get back to me. It made life a lot easier.”

He said that the foundation has raised more than $1.7 million over the past 26 years.

“It’s kind of amazing when you think about that,” he said. “We couldn't do it without the help of everybody -- everybody in our community.”

Palermo noted that people who attended the concert have reached out to him, looking for answers in regard to getting help for a spinal injury.

Contributions to the Ricky Palermo Foundation are distributed to four entities, Palermo said. Those are United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, the bicycle program for spinal injured people at the Genesee Area Family YMCA and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

“A small chunk goes to Strong Memorial because they took care of me when I first got hurt, so I want to make sure to remember them,” he said.

Wojtaszek said the Downs plans to host another event next year to support the Ricky Palermo Foundation.

The foundation’s 26th annual golf tournament is scheduled for Aug. 6 at Terry Hills Golf Course on Clinton Street Road. Palermo said it will be a “golf only” event with a take-home chicken and pork barbecue dinner.

Photo: Ricky Palermo accepts $20,000 check from Henry Wojtaszek this morning at Batavia Downs Gaming. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Rock With Ricky fundraiser kicks off concert season at Batavia Downs

By Joanne Beck


Ricky Palermo, front center, talks about his Foundation during a "Rock With Ricky" fundraiser concert Friday at Batavia Downs Gaming in Batavia. Bruce in the USA, a tribute band to the boss and his E Street band, was the first concert of the season and the first time the Ricky Palermo Foundation partnered with Batavia Downs to further its cause of raising awareness and money for spinal cord research. Palermo's Foundation has raised and donated $1.7 million for the community and research at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  Photo by Nick Serrata.



Comedian Nick Marra opens up before the main act, Bruce in the USA, Friday at Batavia Downs Gaming. Marra has also performed in Batavia previously, and all to support the Palermo Foundation's cause. Photo by Nick Serrata.


A commemorative T-shirt for the Ricky Palermo Foundation's "Rock with Ricky" concert Friday at Batavia Downs Gaming in Batavia. Photo by Nick Serrata.


Batavia Downs and Ricky Palermo Foundation donate concert tickets to local veterans

By Press Release


Press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel and the Ricky Palermo foundation today donated over 3,300 tickets to the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency for the upcoming concerts at Batavia Downs.

The first concert, featuring Bruce in the USA, the World’s #1 Tribute to Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, will take place on Friday, June 10th.  100% of the proceeds from ticket sales, chair rental and raffles that day will go to the Ricky Palmero Foundation for Spinal Cord Research.  The fifth Rockin’ the Downs concert series, presented by Pepsi, will start the following week on Friday, June 17th.

“We are happy to extend these complimentary tickets to our local veterans, “said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs and a retired member of the US Navy.  “We thank all the men and women of the Armed Forces for all that they have done and continue to do for our great nation.”

“Our Ricky Palermo Foundation has worked with many veterans and veteran agencies throughout the years,” said Ricky Palermo, President and CEO of the Ricky Palermo Foundation.  “Just like Batavia Downs has done in years past, we too wanted to extend complimentary tickets to our concert for area Veterans to thank them for their service.”

“We are grateful to receive tickets for all 11 concerts, said William Joyce, Director of the Veterans Service Agency of Genesee County.  “Our area Veterans love going to the concerts and we are pleased to be able to extend this opportunity to them once again.”

Tickets can be purchased to all Batavia Downs Events including the Ricky Palmero Charity Concert at

About Batavia Downs/WROTB
Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 10 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $232 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of participating municipalities.

About The Ricky Palermo Foundation
When we first started our foundation, we started small, hosting a cut-a-thon and selling T-shirts that raised a total of five thousand dollars for The Miami Project. In 1996, with the help of my family and close friends, we started The Ricky Palermo Spinal Injury Golf Tournament. Our first year we set a goal to raise five thousand dollars. By the end of the day we had raised eleven thousand, exceeding our goal by over fifty percent. Fast forward to today, our tournament is one of the largest in Western New York with 200 plus golfers, raffles, fun, and even a helicopter golf ball drop. Our foundation has grown into more than just raising awareness and money. We have annual comedy shows, soccer, basketball and lacrosse clinics, and dinners with both live and silent auctions. In 25 years, we have donated $1.7 million to our community and to research at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

About the Veterans Service Agency of Genesee County
The Veterans Service Agency of Genesee County Provides services for veterans and their families.   We assist with filing claims and obtaining psychological, employment, and financial counseling.  We also offer assistance in military review of discharges and in obtaining New York State benefits.  Services are free to veterans, spouses, widows, and children of veterans.


Show by Springsteen tribute artist at Batavia Downs will benefit Palermo Foundation charities

By Press Release

Press release:

We are honored to be partnering with Batavia Downs gaming to host the first of its kind fundraising concert that will benefit our local UMMC Hospital (Rochester Regional Health), our new YMCA, Strong Memorial Hospital and research at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Now in its fifth year as a concert venue, Batavia Downs has been averaging about 3000 to 5000 concertgoers per show as part of their Rockin The Downs Concert Series. Although our Concert is not part of this series and tickets must be purchased separately, we are hoping to draw the same kind of crowd with our Nationally recognized headliner Bruce In The USA and local guests including 97 Rock’s Dave “DJ” Jickster and Comedian Nick Marra. As an added bonus from our friends at Batavia Downs everyone that buys a ticket will receive a $15 free play. . “Wouldn’t it be amazing if a bunch of the concertgoers went back inside at the end of the night and won lots of money, with their free play”?

This concert will be the largest event that we have ever attempted and we are very excited to bring so many people together for yet another fun fundraising event. Sponsorship opportunities include special seating, tickets to the show, $30 of free play, signage, verbal promotion, and shout-outs during the concert. For more information about our three sponsorship tiers, visit RickyPalermoFoundation.

Tickets are selling nicely so if you want to look into joining our concert you can go to my site OR go to EVENTS while looking at the Batavia Downs concerts. You could also look for our QR code, which will also guide you to the information needed to buy tickets.

Special thanks to Batavia Downs CEO Henry Wojtaszek, Concert Manager Ryan Hasenauer, Kathy Paradowski and so many others who have been great to work with.

Ricky Palermo Foundation Charity concert at Batavia Downs

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Ricky Palermo foundation announced today that a charity concert will be taking place at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel on Friday, June 10th.  All proceeds from tickets sales will go directly to the Ricky Palermo Foundation to fund spinal cord research.

The concert will be headlined by Bruce in the USA, the World’s #1 Tribute to Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.  It is a high-energy musical experience that is a note-perfect and visually accurate recreation of a Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show.  The band consists of seasoned world class professional musicians and has toured all over the globe for more than 15 years. 

“We were honored that Ricky thought of us when he and his foundation were looking for a place to hold their show,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “Through the concert we hope to assist Ricky and his foundation to not just raise funds but also awareness of spinal cord research.”

“Our Ricky Palermo Foundation has been finding many ways to raise awareness and much needed money to help our community and find a cure for spinal cord injuries,” said Ricky Palermo, President and CEO of the Ricky Palermo Foundation.  “A large portion of the money raised from this year's concert on June 10th will be staying in our community as we donate to our local YMCA and UMMC, Rochester Regional Health, as well as the Strong Memorial Hospital Spinal Injury Unit and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  Our Foundation would like to thank the Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel staff for partnering with us as we continue to find yet another way to bring people together. We normally have an annual golf tournament, comedy shows, soccer clinics, dinners with live and silent auctions but this is our first attempt at such a huge concert. Everyone has been so generous and supportive as they continue to help our foundation which has raised over $1.7 million in 25 years.  I would like to give a special THANK YOU to my committee that has continued to help me find different ways to have fun and raise much needed money for spinal cord research.”

Tickets for the concert are on sale now at

Ticket prices for the concert match what Batavia Downs does for their summer concert series:  $15 for General Admission, $30 for VIP, $50 for Premium.  Front row tickets for $75 have already sold out, but additional tickets in the front row may go on sale at a later time.  All tickets can be redeemed at Player’s Club at any time in the three days following the concert for $15 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines. This event is a stand-alone event and is not a part of the Rockin' the Downs summer concert series. Purchased season passes for the concert series will not be honored for this concert.


Photo: Ricky Palermo hosts annual soccer clinic

By Howard B. Owens


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.

Two funny guys will perform at Ascension Parish Hall to benefit Ricky Palermo Foundation

By Billie Owens

From a flier sent in by Ricky Palermo:

The nonprofit Ricky Palermo Foundation presents a Comedy Show starring Moody McCarthy and Nick Marra at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 29, at Ascension Parish Hall.

Pat Mancuso is the show's master of ceremonies. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $50. VIP packages are available for $500 for a table of eight -- includes VIP seating, signage and table wine.

Proceeds will benefit Rochester Regional Health, Batavia YMCA, Strong Memorial Hospital Spine Center and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Come and enjoy a night of laughs, heavy hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar! Dibble Family Center is catering.

Register to attend by March 22.

Make checks payable to:

Spinal Injury Tournament C/O Ricky Palermo

5159 Sunset Terrace

Batavia, NY 14020


Questions? Contact Ricky Palermo at (585) 739-8522 or email  [email protected]

To find out more about the Ricky Palermo Foundation, click here.

About Moody McCarthy

He's a stand-up comic (writer and comic writer) who has performed on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, and the Letterman Show. He was raised in Syracuse and now lives in New York City. He began doing comedy in the 1990s and before moving to the Big Apple, he was on Syracuse's top radio show covering sports.

Moody, the nickname his big Irish family gave him (born Matthew), has also been featured on "The Last Comic Standing," the 2003 reboot of "Star Search," and "America's Got Talent." He's performed at the world-famous Comedy Cellar and can be heard on SiriusXM radio.

His material is described as original but universal, smart without being trite. Couple that with a disarming stage presence and in-the-moment chops and you'll see why he's earned the admiration of his peers for his ability to "go up cold." From pubs to corporate outings, this versatile performer brightens any event.

About Nick Marra

He's been entertaining crowds with his down-to-earth comedy for more than 20 years. Drawing on his experiences from growing up in an Italian Catholic home, to his current family comprised on two sons in their 20s and a young daughter (born 16 years later), audiences easily relate to his quirky observations.

Nick performed live at the 2017 Red Carpet Live ESPY show on ESPN.

Producer Bill Bonnell of ABC/ESPN television networks said: "Nick Marra is a throwback. That's what I love about Nick. It's like he parachuted in from another time and place. To me, his style represents the glory days of stand-up comedy. It's good to know that there's still a comedian that represents those days gone by. He never disappoints!"

This time, the fundraiser was for Ricky Palermo and it was a huge success

By Howard B. Owens


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."

Photos: Ricky Palermo Foundation charity tournament at Terry Hills

By Howard B. Owens

Joe Maiorano (top) and Charlie Hamilton (bottom) tie off during the annual Ricky Palermo Foundation charity tournament at Terry Hills today. Maiorano came from Danbury, Conn., and Hamilton from Tampa, Fla., for the tournament.

Authentically Local