Chairman of EQUI-KIDS charity shares inspiration as Nov. 17 fundraiser approaches
Michael Borza not only helps people stay financially healthy but physically as well.
“I love what I do,” said the Merrill Lynch senior vice president. The financial advisor recently hosted a get-together for his clients featuring experts in yoga and exercise, and nutrition.
It’s part of his philosophy that healthy eating and regular physical activity are just as important as good financial well-being.
“Wealth without health is of little value,” he said.
Borza is also a road-cycling enthusiast, and makes time to give back as chairman of the board of directors for EQUI-KIDS and EQUI-VETS. The therapeutic horse-riding program benefits special needs individuals and wounded service members. More than 400 volunteers help about 130 riders who enjoy the 20 horses, a pony, and a mule each week.
His son Michael John, 23, was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and has participated in EQUI-KIDS since he was about 5 years old. Borza called the nonprofit organization, located on 92 acres next to Heritage Park,” a magical place.”
His “little sidekick” who is “always happy” loves being there, he said. “It gives him a sense of joy.”
The organization is privately funded, and no one is turned away, Borza said. It’s gearing up for the 12th annual Stall Ball on-site Nov. 17. The fundraiser featuring the Guava Jam Band, food, drinks and more, will help provide 15 percent of the operating budget, Borza said.
EQUI-KIDS Executive Director Stacy Rogers praised Borza’s volunteer efforts.
“He leads with humanity and the concerns of the community we serve,” she said.
The Pennsylvania native is a proud Penn State University alum who attended on an ROTC scholarship. In 1977 the Navy brought him to the area. He joined Merrill Lynch in 2011, after more than 20 years in the financial planning industry.
Being a trusted advisor for a family is a privilege, he said. More than 300 clients within about 150 households benefit from his services.
“It’s a wonderful life,” he said.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? Serving others. I learned at an early age, we get the most gratification and fulfillment by being of service to others. That fulfillment rewards you in ways unimaginable.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced? I’ve had my setbacks. Everyone faces challenges. Some are severe and others less. What’s important is to get back up, dust off your pants and get back on the saddle.
What do you love most about the people you work/volunteer with? Observing their passion and commitment to excellence while having no expectation of receiving anything in return.
Who or what inspires you to do what you do? My son, autistic and challenged in many ways. He provides inspiration and context as to what is important and what is not in daily living.
Were there people or experiences in your life that made a huge impact on who you are today? Admiral Saffell, my squadron skipper at VAW 125. Through his example, I learned to pay attention to every detail in a very meticulous manner. He strove for excellence in all that he did and was an extraordinary leader. Chris Johnson, author of “On Target Living.” Chris’ ability to express concepts in nutrition, exercise and rest provide a roadmap to true wealth, enhanced health allowing a better quality of life.
If a snapshot was taken of you enjoying a perfect day, what would it look like? Cycling with my friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After a challenging ride, gathering with my friends and family to observe the sunset from high atop some vantage point to observe God’s best painting of blue, red, orange and white colors.
Favorite movies: Ranked in order: “Serendipity,” “Mary Poppins,” “White Christmas,” “The Wizard of Oz”
Hobbies: Cycling on my Cervelo road bike. I have cycled the equivalent of around the world as measured at the equator (24,901.55 miles) and have since started my second “trip around the world.” Total life time mileage, not counting as a kid, = 31,389.74 miles.
Best job: I love my chosen career. I have the best clients whom I have the privilege to serve. To become an integral part of their family is an incredible honor.
First car: 1977 powder blue cutlass supreme Oldsmobile. I traded it in for a Mazda RX7 upon graduation from flight school!
Favorite Virginia Beach spot: Home with my family.
First celebrity crush: Sally Fields
Comfort food: My wife’s stuffed cabbage.
A favorite TV show from the past: “Father Knows Best”
A recently read book you’d recommend: “The Rhythm of Life” by Matthew Kelly and “On Target Living” by Chris Johnson
what achievements are you most proud? The raising of our children with the huge help of my wife.
Something you’ve done that others might not expect of you: Visit Disney World four times a year. We have annual passes, and yes we have annual Busch Garden passes, too!
If you could choose your theme song, what would it be? Not sure this fits the question, but if there is one song that inspires me it is “The Prayer” by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. I love that song, the melody and words.
What is your personal motto? Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim, “That I May Service.”
The most memorable words of wisdom you received and from whom: Easily the following: Upon return of a summer ROTC camp in Newport, Rhode Island, I was awarded a Navy scholarship for Penn State. I had decided I was not interested. My parents said, “You are accepting the Navy scholarship and going to Penn State.” (That I did and could never repay them for the great advice!)
The words of wisdom you’d share with someone interested in doing what you do: Find that which you are passionate about and never let anyone tell you it can’t be done.
Full name: Michael Jay Borza
Neighborhood: Great Neck Point
Hometown: Duquesne, Pa. (Pittsburgh area)
Marital status: Married to my best friend Dr. Marylin Borza for 35 years!
Children: Blessed here also, three great children: Dr. Meridith Borza, third-year resident Riverside Regional Medical Center; Dr. Monica Borza, Navy flight surgeon for Marine Fighter Squadron VMFA 314; Michael John Borza, special needs who does his very best daily.
Occupation: Senior Vice President, Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch
Education: Bachelor of Science Penn State University, Master of Science in Financial Management Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Flight Officer Pensacola, Florida
Community service: Presently: finance committee chairman of the advisory board for Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School; chairman of the board of directors EQUI-KIDS/EQUI-VETS therapeutic riding program; volunteer with the VAW/VRC Memorial Scholarship, which provides college tuition funds for children of fallen E-2 Naval aviators.
Church affiliation: Catholic
What: Stall Ball
When: 7-11 p.m. Nov. 17
Where: EQUI-KIDS/EQUI-VETS, 2626 Heritage Park Drive, Virginia Beach
Cost: $125 per person, packages are available.
Irene Bowers, email@example.com