R'dale Mental Health gala honors locals

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More than 150 local residents and celebrities gathered at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers on May 4 to honor New York Yankees executive Ray Negron, tennis legend Cliff Richey and others. 

A local Riverdale resident, Rosemery Paulino, an administrative director at RMHA, received the first Helen Meyers Staff Excellence Award.

Mr. Negron and Mr. Richey were celebrated for their devotion to mental health awareness in the community. 

Mr. Negron, a Bronx native, is not only involved with the Yankees but also works as a team counselor, community relations director and children’s book author, according to a press release. 

“He has devoted himself to assisting individuals and communities copying with addiction and other mental and physical challenges,” the press release read.

Mr. Richey, another honoree, wrote  Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match, with his daughter, Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, which was published in 2010.

“[The book] I’ve published along with my daughter a little over a year ago was for the purpose of trying to give people hope and tell people that there is recovery with the disease of clinical depression,” Mr. Richey said. 

During his career, Mr. Richey led the U.S. to the Davis Cup, was the first Grand Prix world points champion and earned the No. 1 position in the Pacific Coast Championships. The Riverdale Mental Health Association called him a “tireless mental health advocate” because he travels across the country sharing his experiences and sparking hope.

“I’ve spoken at 25 events in the last 13 months and every time — every time people come up to me with tears in their eyes and I tell them ‘Just keep throwing punches at this thing.’ People want it to be mainstream. They want someone to speak out. I’m going to continue to do that,” he said. 

 Gala tickets went for at least $400 and the event raised $75,000. 

Though the gala is over, RMHA has extended its online benefit auction at biddingforgood.com/rmha. For more information, go to www.rmha.org. 

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