Golf benefit for quadriplegic June 15

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 28, 2019

 Anthony Mastronardi, of Macomb Township, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2016 while playing for Dakota. All proceeds from a June 15 charity golf outing will go to the Mastronardi family for the ongoing care and support of Anthony.

Anthony Mastronardi, of Macomb Township, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2016 while playing for Dakota. All proceeds from a June 15 charity golf outing will go to the Mastronardi family for the ongoing care and support of Anthony.

Photo provided by Lucy Oakleaf

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WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Anthony Mastronardi’s mindset toward his condition is one of determination and the ability to overcome obstacles.

The third annual charity golf outing to benefit Mastronardi, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a Dakota High School hockey game in 2016, is scheduled for 8 a.m. June 15 at Greystone Golf Club, 67500 Mound Road in Washington Township.

“His life went from a 16-year-old on varsity hockey, two jobs and a girlfriend to not being able to move,” his mother Sarahanne Mastronardi said. “You would think he’d be depressed or angry, but he’s completely the opposite. He has the mindset of knowing what he has to do to improve.”

Golfer foursomes have sold out, but single golfers may sign up for $125. People may register for the event, “Persetto Classic,” at hockey hasheart.org. All proceeds will go to the Mastronardi family for the ongoing care and support of Anthony.

“Our sole focus is to help Michigan hockey families when they are faced with life-altering challenges,” said Lucy Oakleaf, Hockey has Heart president. “Anthony was injured a little over three years ago and we did the first golf outing about six months after he was injured.”

Hockey has Heart, or HHH, was founded in 2003 and consists of a small group of volunteers who have either played hockey or have children or relatives that played the game.

On Dakota’s home opener, Dec. 3, 2016, Anthony, now 19, and an opposing defender were racing for the puck when their legs accidentally tangled, and he collided with the boards headfirst. He suffered a spinal cord injury, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

“Physical therapy for a condition like Anthony’s is extremely expensive once insurance runs out,” Sarahanne said. “We have a great deal of faith and both know that God has a plan for him, and in the end, he will be walking again.”

Anthony works out at Barwis Performance Center in Plymouth Township and the Recovery Project in Livonia. A typical day consists of four hours of physical therapy, followed by schoolwork for classes at Macomb Community College.

“He’s been making progress slowly, but surely,” Sarahanne said. “He’s now moving his arms and can grasp things. He’s able to move his foot a tiny bit, all a result of therapy.”   

Oakleaf said it’s important to offer continued support to the family because of Anthony’s ongoing medical needs.

“He’s going to have a lifetime of medical challenges facing him,” she said. “They need help financially and that’s what our organization is all about.”

The goal is to raise around $30,000. Last year’s golf outing netted just over $37,000. Raffles include restaurant gift certificates, theme baskets and hockey items. People who don’t want to golf still can eat dinner for $50.

“Anybody that knows the Mastronardi family understands the challenges they face on a daily basis,” Oakleaf said. “Everything we raise, whatever donations are given to Hockey has Heart, we pass on to the family 100%. Helping Anthony is our primary goal.”

Anthony is a quadriplegic, which affects all four limbs, plus the torso.

“He never complains at therapy. Even if something maybe (is) hard, he keeps trying it until he gets it right,” Sarahanne said. “He has one of the strongest mindsets I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t let being in a wheelchair stop him.”

She said the goal is for Anthony to return to the physical condition he was in before the injury.

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