Thursday, August 14, 2008

NY Mets Recognize Local Residents for Outstanding Charity


By Patricia Adams

On Monday August 11th The New York Mets held their Spirit Awards presentations and this year honored two men for their outstanding efforts and selfless dedication.

Retired FDNY FF Bobby McGuire of Howard Beach and Gene McCauley of Woodhaven were both recognized for their continuous charitable work on behalf of The New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. Kenny Schmidt, formerly of Ozone Park, was awarded for his work on behalf of St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital.

A little more than 15 years ago, Gene McCauley, of Woodhaven Galleries, suggested that a charitable golf tournament be started in order to raise money for the Firefighters Burn Center. Bobby McGuire, boxing manager and coach of the FDNY boxing team took the ball and ran with it to start up the tournament.

“We started out 15 years ago and it’s been amazing ever since,” McGuire said. “About 12 years ago we decided to change the name of the tournament to the John Ciorciari Golf Tournament.” McGuire explained that the tournament was renamed and dedicated to the memory of Firefighter John Ciorciari who was shot and killed while off-duty at a Howard Beach eatery in 1996 over the Fourth of July weekend.

“This year was the 12th annual one for John,” said McGuire who was a close friend and brother firefighter to Ciorciari. “What’s unbelievable is that this event is held on the first Monday after Father’s Day each year and has been sold out every year since it started.”

The event is always held at Forest Park and is comprised of 36 foursomes each year. “Out of 144 golfers every year, we have a return rate of about 120 of the same golfers every year. That’s pretty unbelievable.” Among the golfers who have come back to play in the event every year is John Ciorciari Sr, also a retired firefighter.

Since the tournament began, it has raised more than $200,000 in donations which have been presented yearly to the Burn Center at New York Cornell. “Their care is outstanding and probably the best burn care in the world,” said Bobby McGuire. “They treat civilians and firefighters alike, and we are really glad to have the opportunity to help them out.”

The NY Firefighters Burn Center Foundation is a non-profit organization of firefighters founded in 1975 and is dedicated to the advancement of burn care, research, prevention and education. The goal of The New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation is to make quality burn care available to all who are seriously burned regardless of age, race, creed or economic status.

It proudly supports The Burn Center at NY Presbyterian Hospital. The Center admits more than 1,000 patients annually and is the busiest in the nation. It is headed up by Dr. Roger Yurt who was responsible for the care of 9/11 survivors at the unit and who describes the work at the hospital in this way, “If you can learn to take care of a patient who has been badly burned," he notes, "you'll be able to treat any kind of severe acute illness.”

When asked how much longer he expects the event to go on, Bobby McGuire looked up and laughed. “When we first started, it was for one year. Then we decided to go for $50,000. After that the new benchmark became $100,000. Now that we’re at a milestone of $200,000, I guess we’ll just keep going until we get to half-a-million.”

The Forum Newsgroup/photo courtesy of TOM CROCCKER

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