Michael Magro’s parents still refer to him as a “peacemaker”; he was always the one to bring his friends together after an argument and offer help when it was needed. Michael was a hardworking boy who loved to play lacrosse and help his dad stuff artichokes for dinner — an event the whole family took part in.
In 2004, Michael was diagnosed with leukemia. He was treated at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, but lost his battle on July 30 of that year at the age of 13. The following year, the Magro family started the Michael Magro Foundation in his honor.
“We figured, we could either stick our heads in the sand, or we could do something,” said Michael’s father, Paul Magro of Hicksville. “So we started the foundation.”
On Thursday, the foundation hosted its first “Cruise for a Cause” fundraiser aboard the “Delta Lady,” a ship harbored at Captree State Park in Babylon. Guests were invited to spend three hours traveling around Great South Bay and back, enjoying food, drinks and good company as the sun set over Long Island.
“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” said Michael’s mother, Terrie Margo. “It’s all about staying positive.”
The Michael Magro Foundation is a nonprofit that works to help children with cancer. The foundation works closely with the Winthrop-University Cancer Center for Kids and offers an athletic scholarship as well as a culinary arts scholarship for graduating students at Hicksville High School. All proceeds from events and outside donations go directly to helping the foundation.
“It’s not a large organization, and we want to give directly to others,” Paul Magro said.
Michael’s younger brother, Marc Margo, 19, is a cancer survivor. When Marc was 11, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and underwent months of chemotherapy. Michael was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after Marc recovered.
“We were a team, we always were,” Marc said. “When Mike was sick I was there giving him advice and helping him because I went through it too. All we could do was support each other.”
Throughout the years, the foundation has also worked with the cancer center by donating toys, gift cards and services for sick children and their families.
“People don’t know how hard it is do deal with this type of situation,” said Barbara Shields, a Cancer Center for Kids employee and board member of the Michael Magro Foundation. “There isn’t one place in the pediatric center where the Magro Foundation hasn’t made a great impact.”
Terrie Magro collaborated with parents and physicians to put together a special guide intended to provide advice for parents that are helping a sick child. Now, every family that checks into the Cancer Center for Kids receives a copy of the book.
“That book was my Bible when my son was sick,” said Lori Ames, a parent of a cancer survivor who now volunteers for the foundation. “It had everything I needed to know, what was right, what wasn’t right, insurance information, bus schedules, local hotels for visitors — everything you would need to know about the process.”
This past February, the foundation donated $30,000 to Winthrop-University’s Cancer Center for Kids in support of their School Re-Entry Ongoing Academic Resources program. The program works toward providing schools and parents with information on how to reintroduce children with cancer into a healthy social atmosphere after treatment or while they are still in treatment for their illness.
“This foundation is for the living, the survivors — I see that every day through Marc’s eyes,” Paul Magro said. “It feels good to be doing something positive and that people can come to us.”