Former MLB star Frank Catalanotto hosts charity golf outing on Long Island
A former professional baseball player from Long Island is “going to bat” for a worthy cause.
Smithtown’s Frank Catalanotto, who will be remembered for his 14-year baseball career, and his wife Barbara are the co-chairpersons of the Vascular Birthmark Foundation (VBF). The Albany, NY based foundation is geared towards getting families that have an infant with a vascular birthmark to the proper physician to be diagnosed.
On Oct. 3, Catalanotto hosted the inaugural Frank Catalanotto Foundation Golf Outing at Cold Spring Country Club in Huntington. Over 175 people attended the festivities, allowing the foundation to raise over $45,000 for the VBF. Former MLB players Dwight Gooden, John Franco, Paul LoDuca, Tanyon Sturtze, Frank Tepedino and Don DeMola were also on hand for the event.
Vascular birthmarks are benign stem cell tumors that only grow for the first year of an infant’s life and have no known cause. As the most common infant defect, vascular birthmarks afflict one in every 10 children—400,000 of the 4 million live births per year.
Catalanotto’s first of four daughters, Morgan, now 12, was born with a vascular birthmark on her nose. After pediatricians assured him that the birthmark would eventually disappear, Catalanotto sought another opinion after the birthmark began growing larger.
While playing for the Texas Rangers in 2000, Catalanotto contacted Linda Rozell-Shannon—the president and founder of the VBF. Shannon, the leading lay expert in the field, said that many doctors were unfamiliar with the tumors, so she outlined a treatment plan for Morgan.
After two laser treatments and a reconstructive surgery, Morgan’s birthmark was removed successfully and permanently.
Based on his experience with the organization, Catalanotto’s own foundation donates all of profits to the VBF. He and his wife attempt to promote awareness of vascular birthmarks through events such as the golf outing.
“This is a foundation [VBF] that helped my daughter out, and I feel like I owe them,” Catalanotto said. “Once people realize how these families are affected, they will get more involved. The more that I can make myself and my foundation known in the community, I think people will hop on board and help out.”
The doctors at the VBF say they are grateful for Catalanotto’s contributions. Catalanotto and his wife have helped raise over $100,000 for the VBF.
Dr. Gregory Levitin, director of the Vascular Birthmark Center of New York said the support from the Catalanotto’s has allowed the VBF to stay in existence while networking over 50,000 adults and children to help them discover possible treatment options.
“When you see how much work the VBF does, they need help to stay running,” said Barbara Catalanotto. “We have this great opportunity to generate a lot of money to donate to them.”
To continue raising awareness about vascular birthmarks, Catalanotto’s foundation will host a 5K race this spring.
For more information, visit Catalanotto’s personal website.
Follow Catalanotto on Twitter @fcat27.