Those who know me also know my very, very deep gratitude and pride I have about my alma mater, Hofstra University. As you watch the debates tonight, I thought you would like to know how my close ties with this incredible University played a role in our diabetes world. Even if there is no clear winner on the campus tonight, the campus will always be a winner to me, and the diabetes community.
Six degrees of separation indeed.
I was a theatre major at Hofstra. I was honored to work with incredibly talented people at different times. We knew it was a unique class and time frame of our lives. NEVER did I EVER imagine what a significant role these magnificent people would play in my life.
After I had decided to begin my journey into the diabetes world once Kaitlyn was diagnosed in 1992 I received a call. I was told by the caller that he was willing to do all he could to help in my battle against diabetes. “Many of us from Hofstra know what you are doing Tom, my cast is available for you when and if you want them.” That man was Phil Rosenthal and ‘his cast’ was none other than the mega-award-winning cast of Everybody Loves Raymond. Numerous times I was on the set filming public service announcements about diabetes and/or the Diabetes Research Institute. Click for one example.
Another person from my days of Hofstra who jumped right in was Tom McGowan. At the time Tom was playing the GM of a radio station on the hit TV show, Fraser. He was also known as the nemesis photographer in the hit movie Bird Cage and in recent years you may have caught him on Broadway as the Wizard in the smash hit, Wicked. Tom was ever-ready donating walk-on parts for auctions and signed scripts. His mega talent was only surpassed by his compassionate heart to help.
One of the longest running hits in the NY Stage history was Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding. What a privilege and an honor was it for me to be part of the cast of that show for 12 years. Hofstra Graduates Nancy Cassaro, and Mark Nasser were the lead writers/creators for the show and Hofstra Alum and brothers Joe and Dan Corcoran produced it. All of them allowed many aspects of their show to play a part in the battle against diabetes. Through walk on parts, the selling of autographed posters from the cast, and other means of income generating fund-raising; tens and tens of thousands of dollars was raised to support diabetes research. In addition to working with another Hofstra alum; actress Liz Dennehy would also create public service announcements and enlist dad, Brian, to help as well. Through the show I would become friends with Sundance Film Director Matthew Bonifacio who would create an extremely powerful public service announcement for the DRI as well, featuring Sugar Ray Leonard.
My dear friend Karen Wald who worked on shows like Spin City, Hope and Faith, and Saturday Night Live would also jump in at various times and obtain walk-on parts, VIP seating, attend the taping tickets, signed paraphernalia and so much more.
I honestly do not believe that my friends and connections from Hofstra University ever, ever said no to any request. Through the many connections led many more connections—people who I grew to know and love and forever be thankful for their contributions in the search for a cure for my kids and the so many like them who live with diabetes every day. Too many to even attempt naming them all. Today I name but just a few, believe me there were more.
So as you watch the debates tonight, know that this University on Long Island through some really wonderful people who attended years ago, played a major role in what will one day be a cure for our kids.
Whether there is a winning candidate or not tonight in the debates? —well I’ll leave that to you to decide. But as far as Hofstra University is concerned; it will always be a winner to the diabetes community and hold a very special place in my heart. Thank you Hofstra.
I’m a Diabetesdad.