Ten-year-old Matthew Evangelista of Flushing, who has lived most of his life at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside, has been named grand marshal of the Walk for St. Mary’s Kids to be held on May 20.
The eighth annual walk will be held for the first time at Fort Totten Park in Bayside. In previous years it was held at Belmont Park in Elmont, LI. Hospital officials hope the move to Queens will make it easier for people to get to and will increase participation.
“We look forward to Matthew leading the way as we walk to raise funds and awareness for children with special needs and celebrate the 4,000 children in our care,” said St. Mary’s President and CEO Jeffrey Frerichs., noting that Matthew was selected in recognition of his rehabilitative achievements.
The grand marshal was diagnosed with Sly syndrome at the age of 5 months, which is a rare genetic disorder that left him paralyzed. He underwent spinal surgery and was transferred to St. Mary’s, where he continues to receive therapy, support and education.
According to hospital officials, although Matthew suffers from chronic respiratory failure, developmental delays, asthma and limited gross motor function, he has continued to thrive. He has learned to use sign language and attends the on-site public school, PS 23.
Money raised at the walk will go toward programs and initiatives at St. Mary’s. Participants can take part as individuals, teams or virtually online.
This is St. Mary’s 140th anniversary year and it is in the middle of enlarging its facility to offer more private and semi-private rooms plus expanded treatment areas. The expansion is expected to open next fall.
To register for the walk, go to events.stmaryskids.org/walk2012 or contact Angela Sculti at (718) 281-8817.