Tag Archives: American Cancer Society

Fighting cancer step by step at Howard Beach Relay For Life

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Noreen Feehan

Howard Beach residents filled the track at Frank Charles Memorial Park on June 13 to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

For the seventh annual Relay For Life event, an overnight community fundraising walk, Howard Beach participants raised $52,000, bringing the local event’s seven-year fundraising total to $650,000.

The fundraising event, which takes place in tracks all over the country, honors cancer survivors and those who have lost their lives. Cancer survivors took the first lap around the track as onlookers cheered their victory.

“The goal of Relay For Life is to bring communities together in the fight against cancer,” said Meaghan Neary, special events manager for the American Cancer Society. “At Relay, we aim to celebrate our survivors and caregivers, remember those we’ve lost and pledge to fight back against a disease that has taken too much.”

At sundown, participants lit candles lining the track as part of the luminaria ceremony to remember those who died as a result of cancer, honor people who beat cancer and support those who continue to fight the disease.


Howard Beach resident Noreen Feehan lost her father to duodenal cancer in February. Her father, Lester McCann, was well known throughout the community and coached the Lynvets football team in Howard Beach. Feehan attended the event with her 6-year-old and 8-year-old daughters and said Relay For Life allowed her to teach her children an important lesson.

“I think it’s very important for younger people to attend these events. As my 8-year-old had asked, she said ‘Mommy, why are we celebrating when it’s something sad?’ and I explained it to her that a person’s life is not contained in the sadness of their death,” Feehan said. “It’s in the happiness of their life and the memory of them of when they were alive is what we have to keep alive.”

Feehan said the survivor walk was an important part of changing the stigma of cancer from a death sentence to a disease that can be beaten with the right treatment and mental attitude. She would also like to see the event become a place where people who currently have cancer can come to find more information.

“There’s a lot of good services especially for people who are going through chemotherapy where they have wig services or hat services so that it can also become an event which disseminates information to those who need it,” Feehan said.


Volunteers wanted for Relay for Life events in Queens this spring

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


Those looking to put their best feet forward in the fight against cancer are encouraged to join Relay for Life events scheduled across Queens in May and June.

The relays benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS) and include teams of volunteers from families, businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, civic associations and other groups walking or running laps around a course to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.

New York City played host to 27 Relay for Life events last year, raising more than $1.4 million combined, a goal the ACS hopes to eclipse in this year’s relay events.

“The Relay for Life movement unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action to finish the fight once and for all,” ACS Relay for Life Senior Manager Ben Messner said. “Many participants are our family, friends and neighbors who have faced cancer themselves. Each new team that registers brings us one step closer to saving more lives.”

Each Relay for Life kicks off with the “Survivors’ Lap,” as local cancer survivors take the first steps on the course, symbolizing their resiliency and strength. Once the survivors complete their circuit, the fundraising teams take the track; at least one member of each team must be on the track for the relay’s duration, into the night and following morning.

Team members camp out trackside and, when not on the course, get to rest and enjoy games, music and entertainment.

After nightfall, volunteers hold a luminaria lighting ceremony, when candles lining the course are lit in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of someone who died of its complications.

The Relay for Life for the communities of Broad Channel, Breezy Point and the Rockaways takes place on Saturday, May 16, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning at the Broad Channel Athletic Club, located at 125 Cross Bay Blvd. For more information, contact Carol Palacio at 631-379-4924 or carol.palacio@cancer.org.

Bayside will hold its Relay for Life on Saturday, June 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning in Alley Pond Park. Those interested in participating can contact Marlene Medina at 646-318-7636 or marlene.medina@cancer.org for additional information.

One week later, the Howard Beach Relay for Life will kick off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, located on 165th Avenue near 83rd Street. To learn more, contact Meghan Neary at 631-300-3458 or meaghan.neary@cancer.org.

Lastly, the Middle Village Relay for Life will take place two weeks later on Saturday, June 27, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning at Juniper Valley Park’s Brennan Field, located off the corner of 71st Street and Lutheran Avenue. Contact Marlene Medina as the previously listed email and phone number.



Anthony Mazzarella, owner of The Waterfront Crabhouse in LIC, dies

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The owner of Long Island City’s Waterfront Crabhouse, Anthony Mazzarella, a boxing enthusiast and an avid fundraiser for people with cancer, died on Jan. 24. He was 77.

Mazzarella opened the eatery, located at 2-03 Borden Ave., almost 40 years ago. It is known for its seafood dishes and walls decorated with boxing memorabilia.

The LIC restaurant, housed in a building dating back to the 1800s, has made it through two disasters, each causing it to be closed for months. The first was a fire in 2009 and just two years ago the eatery was flooded by several feet of water after Hurricane Sandy hit the city.

Mazzarella was also a member of the New York State Boxing Commission and the NY State Wine and Grape Foundation. He served as a member of the American Cancer Society and Queens Division, and he founded the Patty Fund for Childhood Cancer.

He started an annual block party on the Fourth of July that raised thousands of dollars for cancer patients. Other events were held at the Crab House, all for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. Every year he would also host a Christmas party for kids with cancer.

“He was a terrific man who really cared about his community and his neighborhood,” said Joseph Conley, former chairman of Community Board 2. “His contributions were special, as he was instrumental in [Patty Fund for Childhood Cancer], just to name a few. He will be greatly missed.”

Mazzarella was honored with the American Cancer Society’s St. George Medal, the highest and most prestigious award for outstanding service and leadership in the fight against cancer.

Also, as a former boxer, Mazzarella started the Golden Mittens to use physical fitness as a way to keep children away from drugs.

He is survived by his wife, Deanne, three children, two grandchildren and his siblings.

Services will be held on Jan. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pizzi Funeral House, located at 120 Paris Ave. in Northvale, N.J. A mass is scheduled for Jan. 30 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church at 120 Kings Highway in Tappan, in Rockland County.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the United Hospice of Rockland at 11 Stokum Lane, New City, NY 10956.


Op-Ed: Finishing the fight against breast cancer

| oped@queenscourier.com

Alvaro Carrasca l, M.D., M.P.H. Senior Vice President, Cancer Control

One hundred years ago, the American Cancer Society began the fight of a lifetime – the fight against cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers and the biggest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, we’ve contributed to a 20 percent decline in overall cancer death rates in the US since the early 1990s. That means we’ve helped save nearly 1.2 million lives during that time.

The progress we’ve made is remarkable, but there is more work to be done.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when we focus our awareness efforts on the fight to end the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Breast cancer will steal the lives of 39,620 women across the United States this year. In Queens alone, we expect 1,418 women to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and 300 to die of this disease. This is why it is especially important for Queens residents to lace up their sneakers and walk together at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer on October 20.

Making Strides is the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, uniting nearly 300 communities to finish the fight. Our walkers turn awareness into action, raising more than $68 million nationwide for the American Cancer Society last year – one dollar at a time – to save lives from breast cancer.

So where does that money go? First- research. The American Cancer Society invests more in breast cancer research than any other cancer and we’ve played a role in nearly every major breast cancer research breakthrough in recent history. The Society established mammography as the standard to find breast cancer early and discovered lifesaving treatments like Herceptin and Tamoxifen. Thanks in part to our work, the death rate from breast cancer has dropped 33% since 1989 and continuous groundbreaking breast cancer research projects are underway at institutions across New York City. We will continue our work until we end the disease.

But we also support the women of Queens who need help now. One in every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reaches out to us for help. This is a huge obligation for one organization to meet. The Society provides emotional support programs like Reach To Recovery, free wigs and assistance with treatment-related physical side effects, free lodging when the treatment facility is far from home, an extensive network of online support and information, and much more.

This research and these programs are possible because of the funds raised through Making Strides. To sign up for the local walk in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on October 20, visit MakingStridesWalk.org. Connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/Strides and on Twitter at @MakingStrides.

And remember: if you are 40 or older, get your yearly mammogram. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis and mammography is the best way to catch breast cancer early. If you are interested in more information or in need of support, please call us at 1-800-227-2345.



Star of Queens: Len Santoro, American Cancer Society, Juniper Park Civic Association

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star of queens

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Len Santoro started working with the American Cancer Society three years ago. It was his first time volunteering for such a group. Since then, Santoro has worked on several fundraising projects for the society. He also helped work with financial services company Standard & Poor’s to organize a volunteer day.

Around the same time, Santoro started working with the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) after seeing all the work that it does for the community. With the JPCA, he organized neighborhood cleanups, tree plantings and much more. He also helped revive and expand its youth organization. With Santoro’s help, the JPCA has worked alongside the Maspeth High School Green Club, Stop & Shop, the 104th Precinct and others.

BACKGROUND: Santoro was born in Brooklyn, where he lived until he was eight years old. After moving to Ridgewood in 1978, he stayed there for 13 years before moving to Middle Village and then Forest Hills. In addition to his community service, Santoro also works for the IT Department of Standard & Poor’s.

“That job is interesting,” he said. “But it’s the community service that’s really important to me. Society has really opened up my eyes to volunteering, and after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I found that it was through volunteer work that I was able to feel as though I was doing something to help her and others. It empowers you to make you feel that you can make a difference.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “My favorite memory is probably when I was looking for my first apartment, when I was moving from Middle Village to Forest Hills. At that time, I was becoming more independent. My stepfather taught me a lot about how to negotiate in a way that let me know that I have a voice. He showed me that I’m the buyer in that situation, and if there’s something I want to go my way, I have to say something. That relates to my community service because that period was definitely a period of growth for me.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “I think my biggest challenge is getting volunteers during the summer, especially for the Relay for Life. The challenge there is always getting donations and awareness out on what we do. The biggest advantage that the American Cancer Society has over other organizations is that it offers patient services, does research and doesn’t just focus on one particular cancer.”

INSPIRATION: “I think a lot of my inspiration comes from my mother. I have two older siblings, and even though my parents divorced when I was eight years old, my mother took care of us all by herself. She always put our needs ahead of her own, and that’s what community service is all about, being able to give up your time, but doing it because it makes you feel good. When people appreciate the work that’s being done, that’s a feeling that you can’t describe and can’t replace. My other inspiration is my wife, who was working with the American Cancer Society and encouraged me to become a part of it, and that helped kick off some of the other volunteer work I’ve done since then.”




Christ the King hosts ‘Community Day’

| photographers@queenscourier.com


Different organizations from around the borough joined together on Saturday, May 11 at Christ the King High School to share their initiatives with intrigued attendees. The American Cancer Society set up shop and detailed its Relay for Life event, and representatives from groups such as the Juniper Park Civic Association and the Glendale Chamber of Commerce were present. Reps from different banks such as CitiBank and Astoria Federal Savings Bank as well as insurance groups such as New York Life were also there to share information with anyone interested. The event brought the community together to explore many different areas, from physical therapy to photography studios.

Click here to see more photos.

‘Harlem Shake’ causes stir among Queens students

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube

A viral video craze has shaken Queens.

The “Harlem Shake” Internet sensation led to the arrest of one Forest Hills High School teen last week after he organized a “senior prank” that jammed the school lobby with students trying to get in on the fad, cops said.

Arnis Mehmetaj, 17, invited some 500 students on Facebook to jump in on the “Shake” recording during school hours, police said. Arresting officers said a large crowd formed inside the school, “causing annoyance and alarm,” shortly before noon on Friday, February 15.

The popular YouTube video features abrupt cuts to multiple people dancing convulsively for about 15 seconds.

Mehmetaj was charged with disorderly conduct and creating a hazardous condition, police said. He was taken to a local precinct following the fracas.

The teen was reportedly suspended for five days, but a spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE) said suspensions of specific students could not be confirmed, but that several students were “disciplined.”Mehmetaj received a “desk appearance ticket,” the NYPD said, meaning he did not go to central booking on the day of the arrest and will face a judge in court at a later date.

Meanwhile, a group of St. John’s University (SJU) students are hoping their “Harlem Shake” efforts aid a charitable cause.

Some 50 students have hit the web to promote the university’s annual Relay for Life cancer research fundraiser.

A man wearing a purple body suit dances solo in the school’s D’Angelo Center ballroom for the first 15 seconds of the video before a huge crowd joins in on the rave. The 39 second video features a horse costume, a twirling pink umbrella and a student gyrating on top of a desk.

“I’ve seen the news. I think that people really didn’t have any other motive to do it rather than to join in on the fun. They’re just doing it to create a viral video,” said junior Oscar Diaz, SJU’s student government vice president. “Here our efforts were dedicated to a good cause.”

Sophomore Sulaiman Alam, 19, said he was “intrigued” by the Internet phenomenon and decided to take the reins on the project.

“I spent hours looking at video after video on YouTube,” the Bronx pharmacy major said. “It went uphill from there.”

Relay for Life is a global movement powered by the American Cancer Society. The university’s signature event is set to take place on April 19 at 8000 Utopia Parkway.

Howard Beach ‘Lights’ the way

| tpetropoulosedit@queenscourier.com


Once again Howard Beach came together to stand up to cancer.

More than $150,000 was raised at the Fourth Annual Relay for Life of Howard Beach by 302 participants and 37 teams. The event, which took place on June 9 and 10, was sponsored by the American Cancer Society and held at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park.

About $600,000 has been raised over the four years the event has been held, said Phyllis Inserillo, the relay’s organizer.

Increasing awareness to the community was an extremely important component of the event and was the most rewarding part, Inserillo said.

“In Howard Beach, not only do we raise the money, we raise awareness in our local schools, local businesses, churches and whoever will allow us to get to the kids and the young people of our generation and let them know how important early prevention is,” she said. “[We want them] to understand that cancer unfortunately affects everyone in one way or another.”

The afternoon was spent playing sports and dancing, and included a special performance by the lead singer of the freestyle group TKA.

Once the sun set, those who have lost their battle with cancer were remembered with a Luminaria ceremony. Participants shared personal stories and watched a slide show dedicated to the memories of those lost.

“It was the culmination of the evening, to remember all those we’ve lost in the fight,” said Inserillo. “Really, that’s what the event is all about: to see so many people and to know they aren’t the only ones who’ve been through it.”

Kim Trinchese, a cancer survivor and leader of the team Forever Friends, was this year’s honoree. Her team, comprised of family members from across the country, raised $21,908 – the third highest amount of any team this year. HB Relay Rocks came in first, with $53,621 in donations.

“Relay For Life is so important,” said Trinchese. “We need to get the word out so more people can get involved and give back. We should all be grateful.”

Inserillo said with the progress the event has made every year since starting, next year they will be able to reach the million dollar mark in funds raised.

Making Strides, raising funds, giving hope

| amanning@queenscourier.com

“Hey, Soul Sister,” the smash hit by Train, was blasting through speakers as walkers gathered in the field at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The song was fitting as hundreds of survivors who had never met all became, in a way, “soul sisters,” rallying for a common cause that they knew all too well.

The survivors were, of course, not alone at the walk, which took place on Sunday, October 16. There were flocks of “striders” who came out because they knew someone who battled or is battling the disease, which affects about one in eight women in the United States.

The 106th Precinct Explorers were there, along with Community Affairs Officers Kenneth Zorn and Brenda Bratcher and Captain Thomas Pascale.

“It was nice of those kids taking the time,” said Zorn.

Even Assistant Chief James Secreto, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Queens South, walked for the cause, which is very close to his heart.

“I think it’s something important, it’s a good cause. It affects me personally because my mother and aunt both had it,” said Austin Phillips, a senior at St. John’s University who walked with his own team, the Pink Panthers. “My mother’s in her eighth year of remission; she’s doing well, she’s healthy.”

People of every age and background honored and celebrated breast cancer survivors, raised awareness – and raised more than $877,000

Some had been doing it for years, like Marge Cashin, who manned the St. John’s tent for the Office of Community Relations. Although this was her 13th year taking part with the school, which is a flagship sponsor, she originally walked with her sister-in-law, whom she lost to breast cancer two years ago.

Others were taking part for the first time, as Adrienne Pellegrino was. A four-time All-Star winner for Relay for Life, she decided to try her hand at fundraising for Making Strides, raising an impressive $5,070 by herself. With her birthday coming up and the American Cancer Society’s slogan being “Creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” Pellegrino donned a life-sized birthday cake costume, garnering her lots of compliments and second glances.

One survivor, Delma Rosario, a St. Albans resident, summed up her experience – “You’re grateful to be a survivor.” Rosario, who was diagnosed just 10 days before her 39th birthday, has now been in remission for 15 years.