Lombardo’s Bridie Manor, an Italian restaurant in downtown Oswego, has been home to countless Oswego State events and parties over the years. Bridie Manor’s three party rooms have seen everything from alumni weekends and graduation parties to weddings and banquets.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, Bridie Manor added a totally new event to its repertoire, Oswego County’s first ever Multiple Sclerosis Fundraiser.
Bridie Manor owner, Larry Lombardo, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease in which the nervous system attacks the body, in September of 1987 at the age of 36, only two weeks after he opened the restaurant with Tony Lombardo, Orlando Testi, former owner of the Pontiac Hotel, and his father.
“Because it was my 25th anniversary in the restaurant business and my 25th year having MS, I thought I would couple the two together and bring a fundraiser and awareness to Oswego about the disease,” Lombardo said.
In conjunction with OswegoCountyToday. com and the Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Oswego County, Lombardo brought his idea to life. “
All I did was provide the place, idea, and food,” said Lombardo.
The Oswego community helped do the rest. Almost 100 people participated in the fundraiser, which started out as what is called a “Poker Run,” an idea from OswegoCountyToday.com, and ended in Bridie Manor’s popular “Florida Room,” with raffles and prizes and a picnic style lunch. Over $1000 was raised and donated to Multiple Sclerosis Resources.
“It’s a great cause, and the turnout was really, really great. To see people in the community support the MS foundation and to show support to Larry as he’s battling the disease, really shows how great the community is and how much they want to help out,” said Michael A. Schram, who graduated from Oswego State in December 2011, and is good friend of Lombardo.
Schram is a member of Zeta Beta Tau, a national fraternity at Oswego State which earned the National Community Service Award over all the other ZBT chapters in the nation last year. Lombardo and Patty Lewis, a key employee at Bridie Manor since it opened in the 1980s, were named honoraries of ZBT and their pictures have their own place on the yearly composite.
“Patty’s son was in the fraternity and it’s been a hang-out ever since, and so in return, we always show support down here. We try to promote Bridie Manor and we have events here,” Schram said.
In the meantime, Schram has developed a friendship with Lombardo.
“I can always talk to him confidentially. He’s a great friend, he has great stories from back in the day. Whenever I have a question about the history of Oswego or anything about Oswego, he knows the answer,” Schram said.
Schram isn’t the first person to be drawn to Bridie Manor and to Lombardo’s good character. “It’s a warm, cozy atmosphere here. There is never a lack of friends, new friends, customers and future customers,” Lombardo said.
It would be hard for many people to see Bridie Manor go, but even as Lombardo battles MS, this is not an option.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride. Between the economy, the change in trends, the progression of the disease, the business atmosphere, you wonder who is in charge: you, the business, or the disease,” Lombardo said.
Lombardo spends anywhere from 10 to 14 hours a day at the restaurant. “So much work has to be done, so much detail has to be attended to. I keep the restaurant going and the restaurant keeps me going,” Lombardo said.
Lombardo’s daughter, Gina Lombardo-Horn, has watched her dad battle MS for 25 years. Horn starting working at Bridie Manor as a bus girl when she was 14, and she continues to work as a part-time bartender to this day. She said that her dad is one of her biggest role models.
“He has MS, but MS doesn’t have him,” Horn said. “He’s never accepted his illness; he’s a very strong man a lot of will power. He’s just not a quitter, he keeps on going, going, going he doesn’t slow down at all. I think of my dad as a very inspirational person not only to me but to a lot of other people.”