Tangredi and Miller aiming for another round
TROY — Donny Miller remembers the last time he played golf with Chas Tangredi like it was yesterday.
On Tuesday, July 13, in one of their regular late-evening rounds on Frear Park’s golf course, Tangredi ripped his opening drive right down the middle of the fairway. He followed that up with a brilliant second shot onto the putting surface and then sunk a 35-foot putt for birdie. Tangredi sprawled on the green, laughing at his great fortune.
Later that night, Miller and Tangredi caught up with some friends around Miller’s swimming pool, made a bonfire and relaxed.
Life was perfect.
The next morning, Tangredi, 21, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Tangredi, who had suffered from asthma in the past, went to the doctor on Wednesday, July 14, complaining of severe shortness of breath and abdominal pains. After running a few tests, the doctor realized he was dealing with something much more serious than asthma.
Undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Albany Medical Center, Tangredi has been hospitalized since July 15. He hopes to return home sometime during the week of August 9, but realizes that he could be dealing with treatment for the next three to five years in a best-case scenario.
While the Troy community has rallied around Tangredi’s cause, Miller has been his friend’s biggest supporter. He created the Chas Tangredi Foundation, a non-profit organization, and sold 550 LiveStrong rubber bracelets within three hours of their arrival in Troy. 1,000 more bracelets have been ordered and are on the way. They may be purchased for $5 apiece at LoPorto’s Restaurant on Fourth Street or Francesca’s Café on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway in downtown Troy.
The Sunday of Columbus Day weekend - October 10, 2010 – on that same Freak Park golf course that had played host to countless therapeutic rounds of golf for the duo before Tangredi’s diagnosis, a fundraiser tournament for the foundation will be held, featuring food and silent auction items from Troy-area business that have responded to the cause.
While Miller and Tangredi’s near-nightly golf outings have turned into routine hospital visits at Albany Medical Center, their friendship started on the football practice field at Troy High School. Miller was a freshman when Tangredi was a sophomore and the two quickly realized that they ran in the same social circles off the field.
That friendship endured even after the pair split up for college. Tangredi, who graduated from Troy High in 2007, would be entering his senior year at Keuka College in the Finger Lakes region, where he is a member of the basketball team and pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Miller, who graduated from Troy High in 2008, spent the last two years at Hudson Valley Community College.
Miller likened the duo’s fascination with golf – he said they would “dress up like golfers and pretend to be Tiger Woods” – with a neighborhood hang-out spot. Some people hang out at a barber shop, and others relax at a bar or restaurant, Miller and Tangredi would spend nearly every night playing a healing round of golf at Frear Park.
“No matter what had happened to us during the day, we would meet and go play golf,” Miller said. “It was just the two of us. We’d play late at night and we would use glow-in-the-dark balls. We would bond and talk and we would play until it was pitch black, like nine or ten at night. We couldn’t see what was in front of our face, but we didn’t want to go home because we were having too much fun.”
This wasn’t the first piece of bad news for the Tangredi family recently. Tangredi’s mother, JoAnne Millington Tangredi, passed away in October 2008. His grandmother and grandfather also died around that time and Chas’ friends came to his aid then as well, offering their emotional support.
“That brought all of the guys closer together,” Miller said. “It was the first time we had really come together like that and we all just wanted to help out.”
When tragedy struck again, this time to Chas himself, Miller leapt to action. He has had his detractors, who think he’s going the extra mile just to draw attention to himself, something Miller vehemently denies.
Still, the question remains. Why would a 20-year-old spend all of his free time talking with every local business owner in sight for a golf tournament fundraiser that is nearly two months away?
“I know he would do it for me,” said Miller. “We are so close as friends, I wanted to help him. I didn’t want for him to go through it alone.
“Basically, that’s what friends are for.”
In the meantime, Miller and many of the 2,620 members of the Chas Tangredi Foundation page on Facebook (as of August 4) routinely drop in for a visit at Albany Med, hoping they’re not interrupting Chas and his father, Lou, watching the Off Track Betting channel on television. They may have to don a surgical mask to catch a few innings of a Yankees game on cable or play a few games of Nerf basketball, but they know Chas can imagine their smiles underneath.
“He’s a strong kid,” Miller said. “He’s young, he’s in terrific shape and he’s strong-willed. There is no if. It’s when.”
A trip to Italy awaits Tangredi when he is healthy enough to travel overseas, but that’s not the only pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Miller and Tangredi are hoping they can continue their golfing tradition at Frear Park during the fundraiser event on October 10.
“I’m not doing this for the attention,” Miller said. “The people that say that don’t know how close I am with Chas and what he has to go through.
“I just want to hand him that big check and see him smile. That’s my motivation. I just want to see him smile again.”
**We plan on publishing an extended version of this story in The Record at a later date.**
Follow OTR: Twitter
iTunes video podcast
RSS feed for links to blog posts as soon as they are published
Send an email to OTR