Larry Lombardo: Living with MS Since Age 9

Oswego restaurant owner Sept. 9 holds the Bridie Manor Poker Walk to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Central New York

By Stefan Yablonski

Larry Lombardo has owned Bridie Manor in Oswego for 36 years … Aug. 27, 1987. He has had MS since he was in fourth grade.

“I was 9 years old.”

But it hasn’t stopped him from helping others.

“I had come-and-go symptoms. From when I was 9 years old until I was 36 years old — every time I went to the doctor, they didn’t know what was wrong,” he said. “I had balance problems, numb feet and numb arm, bad legs, running into telephone poles, falling down — running into moving cars!”

Nobody knew what it was. Then in 1987, he had a major MS attack.

“I went to a neurologist in Syracuse and he diagnosed me,” he said.

“And then, at that point in time,” he said, “there’s nothing available’ — so, you know, luck of the Irish — ‘just do the best you can. Take it easy, no drinking, No this no that. You have to change your lifestyle.’”

‘You’re not going to die from it — but some days, you’re going to wish you did!’ the doctor told him.

“Thankfully, that thing never happened,” Lombardo said.

These days, there is a whole bunch of different drugs available.

“I’ve been on infusion for 10 years now. I’ve been on some sort of medication since, let’s see now — I’ve been on medication for 36 years,” he said.

“I’m doing OK. I’m still doing OK when I’m on it,” he continued. “I said to the doctor, is it working? He said, ‘the only way you can tell is if you go off it. If you go off it, I can’t be responsible for what happens,’ the doctor said. So I’m still on it.”

The pandemic hurt a lot of people a lot of businesses, everything, he said.

“During COVID, I had people next to me who had it — but I never got it. Have MS, but people say I’m one of the healthiest guys they know,” he added. “I’m healthy and I feel good. I do a lot of walking here, I stay active.”

Lombardo also helps raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Central New York, Inc. He holds the annual Bridie Manor Poker Walk, which this year takes place at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 9.

He has been doing the MS event for 10 years. “This will be our 11th year,” he said.

“Celebration of our 25th anniversary, which was 2012, I thought it would be a good idea to have an event. A fundraiser for MS because not only was it our 25th year of being in business but also it was my 25th year of being diagnosed with MS,” he explained. “25 and 25 … I was on their [Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Central New York] mailing list and everything. So I called them up I said what do you think? And they said let’s try.

“We had it the first year and it was a huge, huge success.

They were a little surprised and I was a little surprised and now it’s just an every year event. We’ve had 120, 130 people take part — a lot of supporters out there.”

The event has raised more than $50,000 over the years.

“I’ve got a sheet of paper that says ‘in recognition’ of the event. I’m not looking for any recognition, I’m a humble guy. It is what it is — you know I’m just looking to help out society, help out the people who need help.

“The MS group helps people. They give walkers, they give people canes. It’s the right thing to do. I have the facility to do it with. I’m just glad to help in some way.”

For more information about the Poker Walk event, call 315-438-4790 or 1-800-975-2404.