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Spirit of Phil Memorial Walk set next weekend in Tonawanda, Miles for Migraine on Saturday

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Phil Haberstro served as executive director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo from 1989 until July 6, when he retired. He continued to serve as chairman of the institute board until his death in November 2020.

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The family and friends of Phil Haberstro, who led the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo for more than three decades before his death in late 2020, will host the second annual Spirit of Phil Memorial Walk next weekend at Cardinal O'Hara High School, his alma mater.

The walk starts at 10 a.m. June 25 outside the Town of Tonawanda school, on the Rails to Trails path Haberstro helped champion. Afterward, a bench will be dedicated in his memory.

Cost is $30, with proceeds to benefit the Phil L. Haberstro Scholarship Fund. Event T-shirts may be purchased for $10. Register at

Haberstro grew up in the town and graduated in 1965 from Cardinal O’Hara. He got a degree in physical education from SUNY Brockport and was a personal trainer and fitness consultant when he co-founded the institute in 1989 with attorney John Giardino, whom he met in 1982 while working at the Buffalo Athletic Club.

Haberstro for decades was a familiar organizer and presence at community health fairs, health conferences and walks across the region. He also was a strong, persistent force in promoting personal and community wellness.

The institute has foundered since he was diagnosed with cancer in spring 2020. He soldiered on to keep it afloat before he died in November of that year, at age 72, while undergoing treatment.

It is being rebranded as the Elevate WNY Community Accelerator.

“We are restructuring with the same mission,” said Mark Donnelly, who chaired the institute board and handles the same role with the new nonprofit effort.

Donnelly, 68, a retired marketing professor who runs a small publishing business, said this week that the group hopes “at some point soon” to launch a new website and unveil future plans.

Addressing headaches

Miles for Migraine, a nonprofit group focused on improving the lives of those with migraine and other headache disorders, as well as their families, welcomes all to attend a Run/Walk/Relax event Saturday morning at Delaware Park.

Those who prefer to partake in their own neighborhood or somewhere else are welcome to participate in the cause through Monday.

“All of the funds raised from this event will benefit migraine research and fellowship programs at the Dent Neurologic Institute” Miles for Migraine Executive Director Shirley Kessel said in a news release.

Those who donate $35 can participate at Delaware Park up to the 9 a.m. start of the 5K run and 2K walk. Learn more and register online at

Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, medical director with Dent, and others with the Amherst neurological institute, will lead a Q&A afterward titled “Discovering New Treatments in Headache Medicine.” Participants also can grab food included with event registration fee from the Mac's Snack Shack food truck. 

Migraines impact 40 million people in the U.S., roughly half of whom are undiagnosed.

A survey showed that people with the disease experienced a nearly 70% increase in monthly migraine attacks during the pandemic.


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