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Bullied most of his life, Lou Cardillo’s son Charlie never had much self-esteem.

Diagnosed with Down syndrome and with deformities on his face, including ears that stuck out, Charlie Cardillo’s peers could be relentless at times, even cruel, calling him names like Dumbo.

But after reconstructive surgery was performed on Charlie to pin his ears back, allowing him to look a little more “quote-on-quote normal,” as Lou Cardillo describes it, the foundation that funded and performed the surgery, Little Baby Face Foundation, has always been close to Cardillo’s heart.

Now, three years later, Cardillo, a Mahopac resident and well-known realtor in the region, is returning the favor by partnering with the foundation for this year’s Victory Cup. Little Baby Face provides surgeons and medical providers at top-notch facilities in New York City who volunteer to perform corrective procedures and medical care for children with facial deformities in financial need.

Calling it a “great, great party” that includes a polo match, a farm to table dinner, and other activities suited for the entire family, the event is set for July 11 at Beaver Ridge Farm along Route 311 in Patterson. While the polo match, which is hitting its 10th year, is a for-profit event, the Victory Cup has partnered with charities like Little Baby Face Foundation and Purple Heart Homes, assuring attendees that 70 percent of their purchase goes to the charity of their choice.

Cardillo got involved–and has since immersed himself in the event as the days grow closer–when former state senator Greg Ball asked Cardillo if he were interested in partnering with him in order to “take it to the next level.” (Ball, who retired from public life after his term ended last December, now lives in Texas.)

Cardillo said the first Victory Cup that occurred ten years ago only had around 100 people attend, but has since grown to more than 2,000. While polo may be an oddity for New York, conceived as a sport that’s only played down south or enjoyed by preppy circles, Cardillo asserts the entire day will be “the best party you ever go to in your life.

Cardillo said he got involved in the event this year because the large sum of attendees will only help get his realty business’s name, The Lou Cardillo Home Selling Team and Keller Williams Realty, out in a competitive market, and, of course, to assist Little Baby Face. When he learned more about Victory Cup and the charity aspect of it, the Manhattan-based foundation came to his mind instantly.

“Little Baby Face stepped up to the plate and did this for my son and it’s totally changed his trajectory in life,” Cardillo said. “So I really want to give back to them as much as I can.”

Since the surgery, Cardillo said Charlie is standing taller, talking more, going out more, and even has gone out with a few different girlfriends. When prom was imminent for Charlie, Cardillo said he had at least four different girls that wanted to go with him.

Cardillo said when Charlie saw himself in the mirror for the first time post- surgery, he remarked how he looked just like his father.

“Those were the first words out of his mouth, ‘Wow, I look just like Dad,’” Cardillo said. “That’s cool because now he made more of a emotional connection withme.”

When Victory Cup takes place this year, Cardillo hopes funds from that funneled to Little Baby Face will allow a few other families to feel that same connection.

For more information, please go to victorycup.org. Read more…