Difference Maker – Richard Guez

Difference Maker – Richard Guez photo thumbnail81200

Setauket Elementary School teacher Richard Guez regularly finds ways to inspire his students within the classroom. For the past two and a half years, he has shared that passion on a global level by volunteering with the TKO Strong Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and support for those diagnosed with the extremely rare and life-threatening microvillus inclusion disease.

MVID is a genetic disease in which the intestinal tract is fully formed but does not function, rendering those with the condition unable to absorb nutrients or water. The TKO Strong Foundation was formed in 2014 by Thomas Kevin Onorato’s parents shortly after he was diagnosed with MVID as a newborn and after learning that more than half of the 30 million people living with rare diseases do not have a disease-specific foundation to support or research their conditions. 

The cause, which has a personal family connection for Mr. Guez, provides funding for research, financial support to families traveling to seek treatment, advocates to generate awareness, and facility networking opportunities for medical professionals and researchers in the pursuit of a cure. Most recently, the organization provided €75,000 (approximately $89,000) to a researcher in the Netherlands who is working to identify a test and/or protocols to identify the disease. Mr. Guez serves as the communications director of the organization and also sits on the board of directors.

After learning about Mr. Guez’s volunteer efforts, the Three Village Central School District students and staff – especially those in Setauket Elementary School – worked to increase awareness for the cause. This September, after only nine school days, students and staff at Setauket generously donated approximately $3,320 for the TKO Strong Foundation. 

For more information about the organization and ways to donate, please visit TKOStrongFoundation.org, “like” TKOStrongFoundation on Facebook or view the “TKO Strong” YouTube video.