Number of Participants: 2
Hours Donated: 15
Value of Time Served: $254
Event Amount Raised: $8,000
Event Type: Health & Medicine
Sport: Boys Golf
Date: June 3, 2021
Saint John's High School
378 Main Street, Shrewsbury
SHREWSBURY — Brendan Maykel graduated from St. John’s High last month and having all four of his very proud grandparents there to see him receive his diploma was one of the best parts of the day.
Maykel’s maternal grandparents, Joanne and Bruce Gendron, and Maggie and Albert Maykel, his paternal grandparents, had skin cancer in the past. Early detection, Maykel believes firmly, made their special moment at St. John’s commencement possible.
“Having them there made me feel really good,” Maykel said during an interview outside Conal Hall Tuesday afternoon, “because I know if they didn’t hop on it right away when they first noticed their skin was looking a little weird maybe they wouldn’t have been there. Because of early detection they got to see me graduate.”
Maykel’s grandparents inspired him to play in the Golf Fights Cancer (GFC) Golf Marathon, which will be held Thursday and Friday at Juniper Hill Golf Course in Northboro. This year’s GFC Golf Marathon will help raise awareness and funds for DetecTogether (formerly 15-40 Connection), a non-profit education and advocacy organization located in Westboro. The mission of DetecTogether is to save lives by teaching people how to detect cancer early and be active partners in their healthcare.
Maykel, a Worcester resident who was a member of St. John’s 2019 Central Mass. Division 1 golf championship team, will play 100 holes in his grandparents’ honor.
“It is a challenge because 100 holes of golf is a lot of physical work,” Maykel said, “but nothing compared to what someone with cancer has gone through.”
Maykel and St. John’s sophomore Dom Garbarino of Shrewsbury will play in the same foursome Thursday.
Garbarino, who also plays golf for the Pioneers, will tee it up in tribute to his grandfathers, Roger Hermanowski, who had prostate cancer, and Dominic Garbarino, who had prostate and lung cancer.
“They were both very diligent in going to the doctor and they were able to early detect it pretty easily,” Garbarino said. “They’re both doing great.”
Garbarino heard about the GFC Golf Marathon in February.
“I knew it was 100 holes of golf,” Garbarino said, “but once I found out it was all about helping cancer early detection I was really excited. Playing golf and helping out with cancer just seemed like a no-brainer.”
The fundraising goal for the marathon is $500,000. Maykel has raised about $5,000 and Garbarino $3,000.
“It’s amazing,” said Heather Maykel, Brendan’s mom and DetecTogether First Responder Program Lead. “At St. John’s there is a huge emphasis on service. It’s a great school that gets kids thinking about their place in the community, and the two of these guys donating their time to play and raising money and extending themselves, our organization really appreciates it. We’re very proud of them.”
Maykel and Garbarino began their fundraising efforts with mass emails to family members and friends.
“I think every single one of them donated,” Garbarino said, “so that was awesome. They all wanted to get involved.”
Maykel and Garbarino will play their 100 holes Thursday. As Maykel, who is one of nine St. John’s alumni participating, explained, golfers can play multiple balls per hole.
“You can play three balls on one hole and that counts as three holes,” he said.
They will tee off at 6:30 a.m., break for lunch, and finish around 4 or 5 p.m.
Maykel, who will play golf at Middlebury College next year, was heading to the driving range after Tuesday’s interview. Garbarino, who also plays baseball at St. John’s, planned on a good night’s sleep Wednesday and hearty breakfast Thursday morning.
Both will pack their golf bags with extra balls, tees and snacks, and drink plenty of water. They will use a cart.
“I think it will be really satisfying to finish the goal,” Garbarino said.
Heather Maykel said Matt Parziale, the former Brockton firefighter and 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, is playing Thursday. Parziale addressed the St. John’s golf team a couple years ago when the Pioneers were gearing up for the postseason.
“He stressed the mental side of golf,” Brendan Maykel said. “When you’re playing 100 holes of golf, you do have to be mentally strong, so I’ll remember that on Thursday. There’s a lot of golf and I’m very excited for it.”