Tag Archives: relay for life

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


| 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.”

JOHANN HAMILTON

 

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‘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

-1w

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.

‘Kids Kare 2′ Fight Cancer


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Alexa Altman

The parking lot at the corner of 151st Avenue and 84th Street in Lindenwood buzzed with children carrying foam swords, creating colorful sand art and jumping in and out of the inflatable bouncy houses –all were having fun and all were helping to fight cancer.

Over 1,400 people came out to help the Howard Beach chapter of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at the group’s Kids Kare 2 event on Sunday, April 29, supporting the cause and raising money for cancer research.

“We were so happy that the community came together to have fun and for a great cause,” said Howard Beach Relay for Life co-chair Phyllis Inserillo. “We do whatever we can to support the cause and help everyone have a great time.”

Inserillo began the Howard Beach chapter of Relay for Life in 2009 with co-chair Melissa Schuler Fochetta, a cancer survivor. Forchetta, who was diagnosed in 2003, became good friends with Inserillo when the pair met in 2005 and began a party planning business together.

“We’re used to doing big events,” said Inserillo. “We wanted to do something community involved.”

That day, Kids Kare 2 raised $10,000 for cancer research, adding to the $150,000 to $200,000 the group accrues annually.

Inserillo hoped to thank all the event’s sponsors, most importantly Dr. Anthony Napolitano, who donated the parking lot where the event was held.

Throughout the year, the Howard Beach Relay for Life chapter hosts get-togethers such as a Halloween party and Bingo nights, raising money and spreading information about the cause. Group members also attend local schools, educating students about cancer prevention and the importance of early detection.

Kids Kare 2 is leading up to Relay for Life’s major event, a two-day walk-a-thon at Charles Park, beginning on June 9. Teams of between eight to 15 participants will raise money as they walk the park’s track.

Even Pia Toscano, of former “American Idol” fame, has assembled a group for this year’s Howard Beach Relay for Life.

Olympic events such as a javelin throw and swimming races will fill the day while there will be music, dancing and raffles all night. According to Inserillo, the event is to celebrate cancer survivors while remembering those who have succumbed to the disease.