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
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.