Boys’ Passing Gives Life to Others through Softball Festival
As a young boy Noah Passero would spend hours throwing a ball for himself, hitting it into the yard and running his own bases, even acting as the announcer as he went along. Complications from a heart disease known as cardiomyopathy limited Noah – a huge sports fan – to less strenuous activities. Noah passed away in April 2008 at age 8, but his family, friends and the Webster community have continued his legacy in a number of special ways, raising more than $77,000 for the Pediatric Cardiology Division at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.
While several fundraisers have contributed to keeping Noah’s memory alive, one of the largest has been the 100 Innings for Noah Softball Festival, named to commemorate the 100 months of Noah’s life. With encouragement from the community, Noah’s grandfather, City of Rochester Softball Commissioner Andy Yazwinski, and his parents, Dan and Wendy Passero, started the slow-pitch softball fundraiser that fall.
“We decided to make a positive out of a negative,” said Andy. “We turned the situation around and believe it was Noah’s purpose in life to raise awareness and help others.”
Always held at Cobbs Hill Park, the 7th annual festival took place Sept. 27. Red and white balloons lined the field with 20 teams of 10 playing from the first pitch at 8 a.m. to the last at midnight. Noah’s friends, relatives, area school teachers, nurses, and even his retired cardiologist J. Peter Harris, M.D., made sure to be a part of the beautiful day. The white team beat the red team this year with a score of 182 to 153. The festival’s score keeper, Becky Martin, and announcer, Terri Bagshaw, are some of the most dedicated participants, staying from start to finish each year. With 250 attendees, this year’s fully-sponsored event raised $9,200.
In addition to educating participants and attendees about work being done in pediatric cardiology, a large portion of the event focuses on the importance of organ donation, with several transplant recipients participating. Over the years, the event has inspired 257 people to sign up to be donors through an information booth operated by representatives from both the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and the Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank.
“We’re so grateful to Andy and Noah’s family for their endless and tireless support of organ donation during the festival,” said Karen Guarino, communications director at the Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank. “Sharing Noah’s story has put a face on the need for organ donation and it’s a powerful message, especially delivered by a loving grandfather, like Andy.”
Noah was able to give sight to someone in need of corneas which, as his grandpa says, “is allowing someone else to see life through Noah’s eyes.”
Noah’s memory is still very much alive in the hearts of the people he touched and will continue to bring people together for a meaningful cause.
“We want everyone to feel special,” said Andy. “Each person gets a hat and a t-shirt and has their name announced as they step up to bat. We also sing ‘God Bless America’ at our 70th inning, like we’re playing in the World Series. It’s how Noah would want it.” For more information about organ and tissue donation, visit the Donor Recovery website.