Sewickley family honors son with milestone donation

Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 12:33 AM

Owen Galluzzo would have turned 13 years old on July 13.

What would have been a milestone birthday now is a moment that needs to be honored, his parents Matthew and Meghan said.

The memorial fund — established through the Pittsburgh Foundation in Owen’s name — makes annual donations to charities supporting ailing children.

But for Owen’s 13th birthday, the fund will make its largest contribution yet by donating $13,000 to the non-profit group Team Impact.

“The whole mission of this memorial fund is to enhance the quality of life of medically fragile kids, and this is right in their wheelhouse. We saw that play out with our son, and it is our hope and anticipation that this gift will help continue that for other kids,” Matthew Galluzzo said.

Born with a congenitive heart condition, Owen was to begin third grade at Osborne Elementary School when he suffered a fatal stroke following open heart surgery. The memorial fund in his name has since supported two charities: the Arizona-based Beads of Courage and Massachusetts-based Team Impact, which pairs children with serious illnesses with college sports teams.

The annual Labor Day festival celebrating Owen’s life held each year in War Memorial Park helps to raise money for the memorial fund.

Other contributions come from individual donors, local businesses and independently organized fundraising events like lemonade stands.

“It’s really buoying for us to have the level of support. I mean near and far, people from across the country have come to experience the (celebration) or write a check,” Matthew Galluzzo said.

Through Team Impact, Owen was “drafted” by the University of Pittsburgh’s baseball team, attending games and practices with them.

He had played baseball for two years before his condition made it difficult for him to continue.

Meghan Galluzzo recalled her son wearing his Pitt baseball cap to school for weeks following his first game with the team.

“It’s a pretty big deal for kids who are medically fragile because a lot of times they can’t keep up with their peers in sports,” she said.

The fourth annual memorial picnic for Owen will be held in War Memorial Park on Labor Day.

Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Correction: An original version of this story indicated the wrong day for the annual festival. That information has been corrected and updated.