Miracle Makers: Ten Ugly Men
Outstanding Commitment by a Community Group
Providing Beautiful Opportunities to Golisano Children’s Hospital
It’s been said that when one door closes, another opens; in the case of Ten Ugly Men, it has never been truer. When veteran “Ugly” John Fitzsimmons’ first wife passed away from a brain tumor in 2003, the group began donating money to the Bright Eyes Fund, set up for pediatric brain tumor treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital. To date, the men have raised more than $100,000 for the fund.
“Before, we only gave to one primary charity,” Fitzsimmons said. “When my first wife passed away, we made the Bright Eyes Fund a co-beneficiary.”
Ten Ugly Men formed in 1989, when a group of Nazareth alumni threw a party for friends and family. Surprised by the turnout, they decided to move the get-together to a park the next year, charge a couple of dollars for refreshments and donate the proceeds to a charity.
“The concept grew exponentially; by its third or fourth year, there were a few hundred people attending,” Fitzsimmons said.
This year, the group will celebrate its 19th festival with a toga theme. The games, food, beverage, live music and entertainment for guests of all ages—including sports tournaments in kickball, volleyball, bocce, and a 5K run—make the all-day picnic in the park seem more like an over-the-top block party.
“We start planning in February or March,” Fitzsimmons said. “We start getting together and seriously making plans in April.”
Although the group now has 11 members who are not all Nazareth College alumni, their generous spirit and fun-loving habits are the common bonds of their friendship. The self-proclaimed “Uglies” are original members Michael Hartman and Mark Palvino, as well as Fitzsimmons, Michael Perrotta, Alan Wood, Larry Casey, Brad Quigley, Mike Geisler, Dwight Barksdale, Alan Lagonegro, and Kerry Gotham.