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'Mets room' at Ronald McDonald house a home run with kids

Matthew Patrick Smyth's Mets Room at the Ronald

Matthew Patrick Smyth's Mets Room at the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island designer showcase, October 4, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

One room at the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island in New Hyde Park brought a certain kind of amazin' joy to Michael Avitabile as the 8-year-old underwent four rounds of chemotherapy at the hospital next door.

Throughout his four-month treatment at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, the Wantagh boy and his family often retreated to the facility's so-called Mets Room. There they would turn on the 50-inch flat-screen television and settle into the orange and blue bean bag chairs as they watched the team's run for the pennant.

The Mets' 20-8 record in August was an especially welcome diversion for Michael, who was there until September and is now in remission for Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, said father Anthony.

"Michael's happiest memory in the Mets room was being able to watch his favorite sport with his brothers," said Anthony, 41, a risk manager for Major League Baseball. "It was a true escape from reality and created a sense of normalcy."

Families who have seriously ill children being treated nearby can temporarily live at the Ronald McDonald House at no charge. A room has been devoted to the Mets since 2006 in honor of the team's support of the nonprofit.

With the 42-bedroom facility currently full, "our resident families have been gravitating to the Mets room, a baseball fan's paradise these last few weeks," said House president Matthew Campo, adding that plans are under way to hold a World Series party there.

Two years ago, the Mets room received a professional makeover from Manhattan designer Matthew Patrick Smyth as part of a show house to make the facility lighter, brighter and more comfortable for the families who stay there. Smyth, who has collaborated on several projects with design icon Gloria Vanderbilt, used a loud and proud Mets logo rug in the 300-square-foot space but around it added such high-end and custom-crafted touches as molding incorporating a baseball diamond design.

"Of anything I've done, this was the most rewarding," said Smyth, who launched his firm in 1988.

Now that the Mets are headed to the World Series, Smyth said he plans to update a hallway where he carefully curated and artfully displayed a collection of Mets memorabilia, photographs and artwork. "A framed pennant," he said, "or a poster, or the cover of a magazine, or Newsday."


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