29th Annual Cleveland Clinic Children’s Gala Celebrates Courageous Children

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The 29th annual Cleveland Clinic Children’s Gala – presented by the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Scala Family Foundation – will honor an inspiring young patient who demonstrated incredible resilience while facing medical adversity. This year’s honoree, Vinny Mercurio, 11, of Brunswick will receive the esteemed Courage Award on the evening of May 4th at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

Cleveland Clinic Children’s annual gala is focused on honoring brave children facing medical obstacles and the dedicated caregivers who work tirelessly to help them heal. Funds raised at the event will help advance innovative pediatric research, which will help increase the ability of children to live fulfilling lives. In 2018, gala supporters helped raise more than $1.6 million.

The event, hosted by Fox 8 anchor Stefani Schaefer and co-chaired by Lorraine Dodero and Umberto Fedeli, will feature a variety of special guests, including the Press Play dance band from New York City and classical pianist Daisey Yu, a former Cleveland Clinic patient.

More about this year’s Courage Award honoree:

Vinny Mercurio, 11, of Brunswick, Ohio

2019 Courage Award honoree Mercurio (Photo by Cleveland Clinic Center for Medical Art & Photography)

Last year, Vinny Mercurio had what at first seemed like a simple headache. Within hours an unresponsive Vinny was being flown to the Cleveland Clinic, where doctors determined he had a brain bleed.

Two days later, Vinny underwent successful brain surgery. The once active 10-year old was now recovering in the intensive care unit and was unable to walk or talk.

Vinny’s days now were filled with intense speech, physical, recreational and occupational therapy at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation. It took a lot out of him, but Doctors knew it was working.

Vinny’s journey was full of celebrations,” says Erin Murdock, MD, a pediatric rehabilitation specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “I remember when he took his first steps in the gait trainer, then he took his first steps with the walker, and it just keeps going and going.  While we celebrate how he is today, we remember how much it meant to us to celebrate those little victories that brought him to this point.”

Vinny pushed himself and soon he was again walking and talking. “We kept hearing that Children’s Rehab is a place where miracles happen,” says Vinny’s mom Betty Mercurio. “I can confidently say that’s where our miracle happened. The caregivers never gave up on him.  They brought our son back to us.”

Today, Vinny is back in school, and earning good grades. He no longer takes medication and walks with the help of a posterior walker. “He doesn’t like to see pictures or hear about the three months when he was “sleeping” because it makes him sad.  He chooses to focus on getting better, which I admire,” Betty says.

For more information on Cleveland Clinic Children’s “Shine On” Gala, visit Clevelandclinicchildrensgala.org and follow Cleveland Clinic Children’s on Facebook for updates.

About Cleveland Clinic Children’s
Cleveland Clinic Children’s is a part of the Cleveland Clinic health system and offers full medical, surgical and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents. Cleveland Clinic Children’s supports 389 beds in four acute care hospitals and one post-acute specialty hospital. In addition, pediatric services are available at more than 50 outpatient clinic locations across Northeast Ohio. A staff of more than 300 full-time pediatricians and sub-specialists see 750,000 pediatric visits each year and provide hospital care for 13,000 children per year. Cleveland Clinic Children’s is a non-profit, multi-specialty academic medical center integrating clinical care, research and education. Cleveland Clinic Children’s consistently ranks among the “Best Children’s Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report. Visit us online at www.clevelandclinic.org/childrens and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandclinicchildrens.

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 66,000 employees are more than 4,200 salaried physicians and researchers and 16,600 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic’s health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 11 regional hospitals in northeast Ohio, more than 180 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2018, there were 7.9 million total outpatient visits, 238,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 220,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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