Tag Archives: Frank Charles Memorial Park

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.


Howard Beach brothers to soar as Eagle Scouts

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Soon, parents Thomas and Andrea Mercatante will have three eagles inside their Howard Beach nest.

Thomas Mercatante Jr., 18, along with his 16-year-old twin brothers, Anthony and Andrew, of Troop 139 will all become Eagle Scouts at the same ceremony on May 1 — a rarity that three siblings make it at once.

“It’s a great feeling to have that,” said proud pop, Thomas Sr., who’s also an assistant scout master.

“To see them work so hard to get to where they are, I take great pride in that. It’s an accomplishment that they’re going to look back on and say, ‘Wow, I really did this.’ It’s a good thing to have, a good thing to do.”

To reach scouting’s top rank, a young man must earn a certain number of merit badges and organize a community service effort, known as an eagle project.

For Thomas, this was a cleanup at Floyd Bennet Field; for Andrew, a similar project at Frank Charles Memorial Park; and Anthony, a sneaker drive in which he collected around 600 pair of shoes for Nike — the rubber from which will be used for gym mats and running tracks.

“It feels like we did it as a family,” said Thomas Jr., whose work, like Andrew’s, was washed away by Sandy. Anthony, who compiled his donated sneakers in the family’s basement, was able to get them out about a week before the storm flooded the home.

The youngest Mercatantes are two years ahead of schedule in making eagle — something they attribute to good leadership in their troop and capitalizing on merit badge opportunities on camping trips.

Although both Andrew and Anthony have capped out their work with the troops before they had to, both plan to come back and help whenever they can.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said Andrea Mercatante, who said her sons might not even yet realize the weight of their accomplishment. “It is an important accomplishment outside of scouting. [People] look at it and they say, ‘They’re responsible, and they’re trustworthy,’ and everything that the scouting oath is they embody. They really do.”

When Sandy started, all three boys sprang into action and ensured any survival necessities were in place, the proud mom recounted. The trio gathered candles, sleeping bags and flashflights in preperation for a storm surge. But most of all, they put their mother at ease.

“They all got together. ‘This is what we’ve got to do Ma, don’t worry.’ They were ready,” said Andrea Mercatante. “And they were calm and they were confident and me seeing that makes me know that they’re ready for anything that comes their way. You could throw a curve ball and they’re going to catch it.”