Friends rally around retired NYPD cop with ALS

CONEY ISLAND – Friends of a retired police officer stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) have mounted a holiday-time effort to help their buddy pay his escalating medical bills.

Retired cop Mike Vinitsky is currently undergoing treatments at Coney Island Hospital, where he has received visits in recent days from numerous police officers, as well as Councilmember Mark Treyger and the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, pastor of Saint Finbar Catholic Church.

One of Vinitsky’s friends, Eric Nass, started a Go Fund Me page on Nov. 30 to try and raise $150,000 to help the stricken hero pay his bills. Within five days, the effort garnered $28,000 in donations.

Vinitsky’s troubles began in 2007 when he was attacked by a hospitalized prisoner he was guarding. The prisoner hit him in the head with a metal post, according to a biography of the officer on Go Fund Me. Vinitsky retired in 2010 due to the serious head injuries he sustained in the attack three years earlier. In July, 2019, he suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest. It was while he was being treated for the heart attack that Vinitsky was diagnosed with ALS.

“The only family he has is his 80-year-old mother who has medical issues herself. Mike is forced to have 24-hour health aides assigned to him. He is responsible for the medical costs himself. Whatever monetary amount you can donate would be greatly appreciated,” a message on the Go Fund Me page reads.

Treyger, who spent the afternoon with Vinitsky on Dec. 5, is urging Brooklyn residents to cheer up the retired officer by sending him get well cards at Coney Island Hospital. Treyger, a Democrat representing Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst, wrote about his visit on Facebook.

“He is a hero that put his life on the line for us. Let’s have his back as well. Mike is a courageous young man who is quick with a smile and welcoming of company,” Treyger wrote.

Treyger also spent time during that visit talking to Vinitsky’s mother, Meri.

Gelfant, who visited Vinitsky with Capt. Anthony Longobardi, commanding officer of the62nd Precinct, said he found the patient in good spirits.

“Brooklyn is proud of him and he has a great sense of humor,” Gelfant wrote on Twitter.

Treyger said he was impressed by the number of cops who came to the hospital to cheer Vinitsky up. “More police officers than I can count showed up while I spent time today with Mike, and I’ve been told many others have been stopping by, too,” he said.

Treyger also praised the staff at Coney Island Hospital “for ensuring Mike is receiving quality care around the clock.”

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