Ray Guarino has always been the type of person to help others. Guarino is now seeing that help returned ten-fold.
Diagnosed with multiple myeloma three months ago, Guarino has been battling the fight of his life. While that battle could not prevent the West Haven native and Hamden Post 88 American Legion baseball coach from leading his team to the postseason this summer, there are a quite a few challenges ahead for the ever popular Guarino.
Most of those challenges will include a significant amount of money and those closest to the voluntary Yale assistant baseball coach are doing all they can to help lead the way for the 43-year-old Guarino and his family.
Long-time friend Ricky Spreyer, along with family and friends, has started A Day for Ray, to be held Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Polish American Club in West Haven.
“We decided after Ray got such a great response when his Go Fund Me from a lot of Yale alumni blew up, we would do something small,” Spreyer said. “We would have his core friends and the West Haven community behind him. Corey (Spreyer), Chris Guarino and Kevin Guarino thought it would be a little get together and it has just blown up to this bigger extent.”
The magnitude of the event has caught Guarino a bit off guard.
When diagnosed, the multiple myeloma was advanced. Guarino started round four of four of chemotherapy on Wednesday.
“It is overwhelming in a way to it almost being embarrassing,” Guarino said. “That’s West Haven for you. That is the people of the town we all grew up in. I have been on the other side of many fundraisers, and the outpouring of support for those has been great. To be the recipient, as much as you don’t want it to be, I have been able to see it first-hand. There are so many people that care and that is awesome. I just try to do things the right way and try to treat people the right way. It comes back ten-fold.”
According to Spreyer, donations are pouring in from all over and include anything from an auction item of a Mickey Mantle signed baseball donated by the Morrell and Norton families, all the way to signed memorabilia, sporting events and raffle prizes, including gift cards.
Among some other auction items are a Tigers Woods signed flag from this year’s Masters, a signed jersey each from former New York Islanders great Billy Smith and former New York Rangers legend Mark Messier, a fishing charter for six people, box seats to a Red Sox game in April and May of next year, and other sporting event tickets.
Tickets to the event are $25 apiece and include beer, wine, and food, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage and peppers, and porchetta to name a few. There will be entertainment throughout the day, in what is also a kid friendly event.
“Four hundred people or so are expected,” Spreyer said. “We have talked to a lot of food vendors and restaurants who are donating food. We put the event out on Facebook and people have bought tickets ahead of time.
“Ray is a baseball coach, a baseball umpire, and a basketball referee, and all those communities have rallied behind him and have come to support him.”
Among those catering are Lorenzo’s, Water’s Edge Deli, Hornet’s Nest of Branford. There will also be a pizza truck courtesy of Reno and Sons, owned by Dave Kennedy.
Said Guarino, “It is hard to grasp at times. It is hard to understand. But, I am beyond grateful and appreciative for what all people have done for (wife) Jackie and I.”
The Spreyer and Guarino families have been life-long friends which helped kick off the idea. The rest as Spreyer says has just come together easily.
“The support of all the businesses was seen right away,” Spreyer said. “It is tough to ask how much they can donate. But, it has been a little overwhelming. Everyone is saying they will donate this or that and not even blinking an eye. That is a testament to Ray and what people think about him. They are just going ahead and donating whatever we need.”
For more information on the event, please contact Ricky Spreyer at 203-605-4183 or Corey Spreyer at 203-640-3366. The brothers will make arrangements to pick up any donation. Checks can be made directly to Ray Guarino.