Honoring the legacy of Baldwin native Tyler McKenzie at Baldwin Harbor Park


Though Tyler McKenzie attended schools outside Baldwin, including West Hollow Middle School and Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills, his heart remained in his hometown, where he began his education at Milburn Elementary School.

Tyler’s parents, Marc and Zea McKenzie, are now preparing for the Tyler McKenzie Memorial Fund’s second annual T-Mac’s 5K Run and Memorial Walk this Saturday, after a successful first year that celebrated their son while raising awareness for cancer research.

Tyler was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer, translocation renal cell carcinoma, in 2016, when he was 22. He died on Aug. 12, 2022, at age 28.

The run and walk will be held at Baldwin Harbor Park, on Grand Ave, at 10 a.m. More than 300 runners and walkers took part in the inaugural event, which raised over $30,000 for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Registration is $35, but will increase to $40 on race day.

“He wanted to become an advocate for young cancer patients, to help them through it, because he always had a very positive attitude: ‘We’re going to fight this, we’re going to push through this,’” Zea McKenzie said of her son. “So when he passed, we knew immediately what we wanted to do.”

The beneficiary for this year’s event will be the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“The run became a way of honoring him,” said Zea, who now lives with Marc in Randolph, New Jersey. “He was my biggest cheerleader, so I knew that it would be something he would give me a thumbs up.”

Though he wasn’t a runner, Zea said, Tyler was a sports fanatic, and had an impressive memory for basketball and football statistics. As a youngster he had played in the Baldwin PAL basketball league.

Two years after he was diagnosed, after graduating from Syracuse University in 2015 with a degree in communications and sports management, Tyler landed his dream job, as a human resources generalist for BSE Global, an organization affiliated with the Brooklyn Nets.

Zea said that although he lived in Baldwin for only eight years, it was his first home, and it was only fitting to hold the run/walk at Baldwin Harbor Park.

“All of our community is there,” she said. “Baldwin was his first real home. He still has lots of friends there, and the community is very supportive of us. We’ve given a lot of years to Long Island. Even though I’m in New Jersey now, I still have a lot of affinity and affiliation on Long Island.”

Tyler is buried in Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale.

“We spent a lot more time in Dix Hills — about 17 years,” Marc said. “But he always questioned why we left Baldwin. He always felt a real kinship with Baldwin. Even after we moved to Dix Hills, he played on teams that were made up of primarily of Baldwin kids.”

Zea expressed gratitude for the support from the community at last year’s run, and said she was optimistic about this weekend’s event, which had nearly 300 participants registered at press time.

“He would be ecstatic,” she said. “I think he would be very proud to see and know that he has some really good childhood friends right there by our side, who have become my adopted sons and daughters. He would be so proud.”

“It’s exhilarating to see the amount of people coming to support and seeing his friends’ support,” Marc added. “It’s also helpful to us in terms of helping us heal, and for me, I look forward to having that amount of people around us who care and who come out. It gives me strength.”

For more information, go to events.elitefeats.com/24tmac#info.