Syracuse University Magazine


Running for Avery

By Mike Tuberosa

Patriot's Day is always an event for people from the Boston area. Held annually on the third Monday in April, it commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord that launched the American Revolution and is celebrated with a holiday, the Boston Marathon, and a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Being a Massachusetts native, it was even more special for me in 2010. I had the privilege of running in the Boston Marathon for a courageous little girl. 

Her name is Avery and she is the 6-year-old daughter of Mike Toole '90 and his wife, Cheryl. Mike is the first person I met at Syracuse when I was a freshman and has remained one of my best friends ever since. Avery has already overcome more challenges than I could ever imagine my kids facing. She has undergone nine open-heart surgeries since she was born. In March 2009, her heart failed, but she was revived and began a long, painful stay in the hospital.

Avery was on life support four times before it was determined she needed a heart transplant. She was put on a list to receive a heart in June 2009 and for two months was kept alive with a Berlin Heart, an artificial device that kept her heart functioning until a donor was found. On August 6, the Tooles received news that a donor had been located and Avery received her heart.  

None of this would have been possible without the medical team at Children's Hospital in Boston. The caring physicians and staff gave her a second chance at life. Avery remained in Children's until October 22, when she was finally healthy enough to return home. 

When Avery was in the hospital, a group of Mike's SU friends tried to come up with a way to help the family during these tough times. The Tooles requested that anything we decided to do should benefit Children's. The six of us brainstormed over the phone. During one of those moments when your heart takes over for your head, I said that maybe I could run the marathon to raise money for Children's.   

After a little investigation, I learned of Children's Miles for Miracles program. In early October my application was accepted to join the program and run in the 114th Boston Marathon. I immediately set out to start the training-and the fund raising. With the help of former Orange classmates David Spindler '90, Christopher Muratore '90, Andrew Lill '90, Pratish Patel '90, and Steve Troffkin '90 and Mike's friend Mark Berman, we found out just how generous people can be, even in these trying economic times. 

The race was everything I could have imagined. I stayed with the Tooles for two days leading up to the marathon and went to the hospital's reception with Cheryl and Avery on Saturday. Hearing the stories of people who would be helped by the money we raised was one of the most emotionally moving and uplifting events I have ever experienced. It made me realize that what we were doing for Children's was much more important than my finishing time in the race. 

The family brought me to the starting line in Hopkinton and wished me well as I ran the 26-plus miles to downtown Boston. The crowd was outstanding and the experience was one I will always remember. With everything that goes on in life, it is not often that you get to do something that can really benefit people both now and in the future. It was a great feeling knowing that our group helped the Tooles, other children, and their families have a better life. I am so grateful that Mike, Cheryl, and Avery allowed me to do this for them. It's been 24 years since Mike and I met during orientation back in 1986, but the friendships that all of us made at SU are still going strong.


Mike Tuberosa '90 lives in Philadelphia, where he is the assistant athletic director for communications at Drexel University. For more information on his fund-raising effort and to read more about Avery, visit