In November 2021, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announced a generous $50 million gift from Mike and Maria Repole and the Nonna’s Garden Foundation to establish The Nonna’s Garden Foundation Initiative for Cancer Care and Research at MSK. The gift was inspired by Mike’s love and devotion for his grandmother (“Nonna”), who was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma at age 79 and treated at MSK. Initially given a critical diagnosis elsewhere, “Nonna” enrolled in a successful clinical trial at MSK which enabled her to live 15 more years post diagnosis before she passed away in 2020.
Last week, on a picture perfect sunny day, Mike’s family and dearest friends gathered alongside MSK leadership to celebrate Nonna’s life and the renaming of the MSK Commack (Long Island) patient care building: MSK Commack Nonna’s Garden Foundation Center. The renaming is in recognition of this generous gift and the contributions the Repoles and the Nonna’s Garden Foundation have made in support of MSK and the mission to bring cancer care closer to home. This is the first time one of MSK’s Regional Care Network locations has been recognized in this way.
The son of Italian immigrants, Mike was raised in Middle Village, Queens. He graduated from St. John’s University, and then entered the beverage industry and eventually co-founded vitaminwater, which was sold to Coca-Cola in 2007. After, Mike worked on several ventures and most recently co-founded BODYARMOR Sports Drink, which announced its sale to Coca-Cola in November 2021. Mike founded Nonna’s Garden Foundation in 2005 - the same year his beloved Nonna was diagnosed with cancer – and over the years, the Repoles and the Foundation have donated more than $7 million to cancer research at MSK.
Since its opening 20 years ago this month, MSK Commack has expanded both in physical size and staffing to become one of the area’s most comprehensive cancer centers. Situated along Commack Road, mere minutes from I-495, MSK Commack boasts over 91,000-square-feet of the most advanced technology and teams with the deepest expertise in caring for people with cancer. Today, more than 50 physicians covering multiple disciplines such as medical, surgical, and radiation oncology, radiology, and interventional radiology visit with patients at the Commack location. Since opening, more than 1.2 million patient visits (inclusive of physician visits) have occurred there. And today, more than 400 clinical trials are open to MSK Commack patients with exciting plans for future growth.
Read more about the renaming celebration in Newsday.