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.