Mineola, NY - Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano presented an award to the family of Lenny Mitchko at a special event on May 29th at the Coral House in Baldwin. Lenny was honored for his selfless devotion to community involvement that brought comfort to so many children and families at the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center. The Nassau County Office for the Aging had more than 300 senior citizens attend this event, which celebrates May as Older Americans Month.
Lenny was a resident of Williston Park who volunteered at Cohen’s Children Hospital at North Shore-LIJ Health Systems. Disabled by painful injuries and wheelchair bound, he decided to help younger children manage their fears about being in a hospital. Sitting in his motorized scooter, Lenny became a beloved fixture in the hospital, while he distributed paperback books and small toys to children as they entered the building. He was referred to as “Dr. Buddy Bear.” He was constantly “on call” to provide bear hugs to children, their parents, and even some doctors who enjoyed his company.
When asked about his mission, Lenny told Cohen’s Children Hospital “Being with the children has given me new life. My pain is nothing compared to theirs. When I see these kids smiling, I’m a happy man.”
Sadly, Lenny Mitchko passed away February 9, 2013. Present at this event were Lenny’s wife, Virginia Mitchko, daughter, Alison Mitchko, and Denise Romero, Director of Volunteer Services for LIJ Medical Center.