By all accounts, Michael Geraldi was a special person.
A New York City Police Department officer who lived in Merrick, he was always committed to giving back and helping others.
“He was always trying to find ways to really help out the community and those that were less fortunate,” his wife, Carmen Geraldi, said.
Michael Geraldi unexpectedly died in September of 2020 at the age of 45. Mikey G’s Embracing Wings Foundation was founded the following summer by Carmen Geraldi, its president, with the hopes of continuing her husband’s spirit of giving back.
Michael Geraldi was into sports cars — Ford Mustangs, in particular — and ran a Mustang club, called Strong Island Stangs.
“It kind of became like a family, and after starting the club, he ended up reaching almost 2,000 members,” Carmen Geraldi said. “So at that point, he started to focus on more philanthropic issues. He loved to bring joy to kids, so he would engage the Mustang club in Toy for Tots, the John Theissen Foundation.”
The club would also hold food runs for pantries, at places like Cure of Ars Roman Catholic Church in Merrick.
“Before he passed, his plan was to turn his Mustang club into a nonprofit,” Carmen Geraldi said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to do that. So my vision was to continue his dream, you know, his legacy, of supporting his two loves — law enforcement and helping children.”
Mikey G’s benefits children in law enforcement families struggling with a medical condition or disability.
“If they’re sick, or you know, they can’t afford something like, for instance, a wheelchair or medical bill, there’s an application they would have to fill out, and we would have to approve it,” said Enzo Tutino, the foundation’s vice president and one of Geraldi’s best friends. “We would do whatever we can to try to help that family out.”
Natalie Tierney, the foundation’s secretary, grew up with Geraldi, and knew him and his wife for many years. Tierney has several law enforcement members in her family.
“It could be any type of disability,” Tierney said. “It’s really to help families with transportation, medical assistance — whether it’s school needs, food — anywhere we can be of assistance. As a parent of a child with a seizure disorder, I know how that would help firsthand.”
The foundation has held some fundraisers over the last couple of years, including a trunk-or-treat and psychic medium night. In keeping with the true spirit of Geraldi and his love for cars, the foundation will host its second annual Car & Motorcycle Show on Sept. 17.
The show will take place at the TGI Friday’s restaurant, at 829 Merrick Ave. in Westbury, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Carmen Geraldi said the event will feature music, raffles and a 50/50, aside from the car show. Spectators can enter free of charge and there’s a $20 donation for vehicles in the show.
The restaurant will also donate 20 percent of profits made from any food or beverage sale throughout the day.
“The car show is really how I represent my husband through the foundation,” Carmen Geraldi said. “This was his love. We’ve been wanting to try a few different types of fundraisers, but the car show is really how I bring my husband’s dream into it.”
The more the foundation’s board gets the word out about its work, the more families it hopes to help.
“It’s such a small niche of people — law enforcement families that have these children that are in need,” Carmen Geraldi said. “They’re out there, but it’s few and far. Any word we can get out to spread who we are, that we’re there to provide support, is great.”
Tutino said that the foundation is still in the process of raising money, and that it hasn’t helped a specific family or child yet. Mikey G’s partners with additional organizations and programs, like Project Thank a Cop and Shop with a Cop, in Geraldi’s memory as well.
The foundation’s good work is all in an effort to keep Geraldi’s memory and ambition alive.
“His personality with everyone, was like, if you met him for the first time, you thought you’d known him for years,” Tutino said. “That’s the personality he had. He was like a brother to me.”
“I grew up with Mike — he was more like family than just a friend,” Tierney said. “We’re just trying to keep his legacy alive and continue his passion. I am very happy I am a part of this foundation, and that my husband, Jeremy, helps out just as much as everyone else. We have a great group of volunteers that come help — family and friends that come and support us.”
Since Geraldi is buried at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, his Mustang club will drive by his gravesite, just before the fundraiser starts, his wife said.
“It just shows the impact that he had on so many people,” she said. “He was really just full of life.”
For more on Geraldi, the foundations efforts, and upcoming events, visit MikeyGsEmbracingWings.com.