The crew team had a moment of silence on Thursday to honor of the life and memory of former Temple rower Michael Mirabella, as Mirabella lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday. He was 23.
“He was great kid,” coach Gavin White said. “He had a lot of confidence. He was always so positive and he had lots of questions. He was always eager to know why we do things the way we do. To go that young is a crime. There were so much things he hadn’t experienced yet, but to see how much pain he was in, you don’t want to be in that situation.”
The Temple alum was well on his way to becoming a member of the U.S. National Rowing team before being diagnosed with cancer last year. Mirabella rowed all four years, from 2009 to 2013, on the men’s crew team. During his freshman season, Mirabella helped the varsity four boat to a gold medal-winning performance at the 2010 Dad Vail Regatta. In his remaining three seasons, Mirabella rowed on the varsity eight boat, which was able to win several regattas.
Because of his athleticism, exuberant personality and competitive nature many members of the men’s and women’s rowing teams gravitated towards him.
“My most lasting impression was whenever we would talk at a party or anything he was just so respectful and kind and just so nice to me,” former rower Claudia Loeber said.
In 2012, Mirabella, whose cousin was diagnosed with autism, created Cycle4Awareness, an effort to raise money and awareness for children with special needs. Mirabella and former Temple rower, Ryan Rickus, went on a 1,900-mile bicycle journey from Philadelphia to Key West, Florida
Both rowers cycled for 19 days before reaching the sunshine State. During that time, they were able to raise more than $3,500. They documented their trip on Tumblr, which can be viewed here.
But Mirabella did not stop there. He, Rickus and former Temple rower Fegal Barry biked from Vancouver, British Columbia to San Diego, California to continue to raise money and awareness for the Athletes Helping Athletes, Inc., which helps athletes with special needs.
For his unselfish personality, many rowers visited him during his time of need and will be present at his memorial service on Saturday.
“His family has been good to us and we want to be there for them,” assistant coach Brian Perkins said.
The viewing was held Friday at Winberg Funeral Home, in Galloway, New Jersey at 5 p.m.
The funeral mass take place Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help on 147 Pitney Road in Galloway at 1 p.m. Instead of flowers, the family has asked all donations be made to Temple University Men’s Crew.
Danielle Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @Dan_Nels.