Tag Archives: Ronald McDonald House

Jackson Heights man, inspired by own experience, helps teens with cancer stay positive


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Don Kang and Justin Vaseur

Danny Alotta wants to make over cancer.

He is not a doctor finding a cure. But the Jackson Heights native is helping some of its youngest victims in a way that helped him through his own battle with cancer years ago.
Alotta is the founder of Joy Juice, a nonprofit that provides fashion makeovers to teens with cancer.

As a senior in high school, Alotta was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. What started out as a seemingly bad cold ended up as “borderline stage 4” cancer for the healthy, athletic teen, he said. Eleven years later, he was declared cancer-free.

“When you are a young person you are still invincible,” Alotta said. “For your parents they understand the seriousness.”

During his chemotherapy, Alotta would find ways to lift his spirits.

On the way out the door for his first chemotherapy treatment he announced it was time for his “joy juice.”

“It was my way of making it a game,” Alotta said. “The only thing I knew how to do was make it a game.”

He also made himself feel better through what he calls “makeovers.”

Alotta would dress up to go to the doctor, don a nice pair of socks around the house or his cousin Billy would buy him a new pair of sneakers.

“Maybe new shoes cure the blues,” he said, adding that a brand-new pair of sneakers still makes him happy to this day.

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Danny Alotta before he was diagnosed with cancer and while he was going through chemotherapy treatment. (Photo courtesy of Danny Alotta)

The chemotherapy mentally and physically affected Alotta, rendering him pale and changing his hair.

“You go through a point where you don’t feel presentable,” he said. “You look in the mirror and you don’t know who is staring back at you.”

In October 2012, Alotta, who is a partner in a clothing line and restaurant, decided to step away from his business ventures and use his branding knowledge to share his experience with cancer in the hope of helping others.

He decided to launch his nonprofit and write a movie, book and a one-man show.

His book, also called “Joy Juice,” was released in January 2014. His show, of the same name, debuted in June at the Kaufman Music Center on West 67th Street. Alotta hopes to perform it in other cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., next year, and he has already spoken to a studio about his movie script.

A little over a year ago, he started his teen cancer makeover organization, which received nonprofit status this summer.

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So far, it has held events with the Ronald McDonald House in New York and Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation in Las Vegas and has plans to work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Teen Cancer America.

The events can be simple as providing lunch and bringing sneakers, socks and headphones so the teens can listen to music during chemotherapy, which Alotta used to do. Sometimes makeup artists and stylists are brought in so the teens can “feel like a celebrity for a day.”

Alotta is also helping those dealing with cancer through the international organization Cancer Positive as its latest ambassador. Cancer Positive, which uses stories, quotes and helpful information to aid people in finding “their own silver lining,” sees Alotta’s story as inspiring because he is using it to encourage others to stay positive.

“They are an organization that sees cancer not only as a diagnosis — it’s about a state of mind,” Alotta said.

“I will never call myself a survivor,” he added. “I call myself a fortunate…because I am fortunate to still be here to tell my story.”

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Star of Queens: Maria Odysseos, Greek American Housing Association, Greek Childrens’ Fund, Ronald McDonald House


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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COMMUNITY SERVICE: Maria Odysseos lends her efforts and enthusiasm to a number of organizations and causes in the community. She is a dedicated member of the PTA at her son’s school as well as the Pancyprian Youth Soccer League. Whether bank sponsored or by her own individual effort, she allocates time and resources to the Greek American Housing Association, the Greek Childrens’ Fund and the Ronald McDonald House. On November 13 she will be participating in the Long Island City Partnership tradeshow.

“I love to be involved in the community in any way I can. I’m especially drawn to organizations that benefit children.” said Odysseos.

Odysseos is praised by her co-workers and members of the community for her professional excellence and dedication to the community.

BACKGROUND: Odysseos, an AVP/Branch manager at Investors Bank and organizer of the inaugural Investors Bank Queens County Conference for Nonprofits, has been involved in banking for the past 25 years. She previously held posts as VP/Branch Manager at Community National and Sovereign Banks. She has been involved in the Astoria market and a community volunteer for the last decade and is an active member of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

INSPIRATION: Odysseos indicates her strong love of helping people as her prime inspiration.

“If I can do something to help someone else better his or her career, to help him or her in any way, I’m happy,” she said. “I enjoy encouraging and mentoring; watching people grow.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: Despite not having a particular memory in mind, Odysseos cites a particularly fulfilling consequence of community service as her “favorite memory.”

“If I see beneficial results come out of an event or organization I committed my time to or help spur, I feel so good,” she said. “It’s deeply satisfying.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Balancing a career and family life,” she said. “You have to work at it. You want to be there for everything.”

RACHEL LANDAU

 

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Have a carnival of a time with Frankie’s


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

carnival

Whether you are preparing that perfect sweet sixteen or organizing your company’s next big party, you can find everything you need at Frankie’s Carnival Time.

They have been at the same location since 1957 to become one of the biggest party rental companies in the tristate area. Frankie’s Carnival Time primarily works on smaller parties, including backyard birthday bashes and fundraisers. However, no event is too big or too small.

For years, the company has also provided tents and carnival rentals to the likes of the “Today” show, Robert De Niro, David Letterman, Rachel Ray and even President Barack Obama, among many others. Frankie’s Carnival Time is the official party supplier for the Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan.

“We get everything from a kid’s birthday party to a big corporate event,” said Wayne Baker, president and owner of Frankie’s Carnival Time. He was five years old when his father started the business. Baker runs the business with his partner and brother, Douglas Baker.

“Customer service is the most important part of our business,” Baker added. “You have to make sure you give people perfect customer service.”

The company provides clowns, tents, tables, chairs, chocolate fountains, snow cone machines, cotton candy machines, hot dog carts, ice cream carts, dunk tanks, four types of photo booths, sound systems, and much more for those looking to host any kind of party from birthday parties to weddings.

“We do everything,” said Baker. “I love my business, I love doing it. It’s creative, it’s fun and I just love being a carnival man.”

Baker said that Queens holds a special place in his heart because he was born and raised here.

“I grew up in Queens Village. I got married in Middle Village. We do a lot of work in Queens,” said Baker.

Frankie’s Carnival Time recently began providing entertainment at the brand new LIC Flea & International Food Bazaar every Saturday and Sunday on the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue in Long Island City. They have already featured a face painter, bounce house and DJ at LIC Flea and plan to switch up the entertainment every weekend. LIC Flea is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The flea market took off quickly,” said Baker. “We are glad to be a part of it. The kids, the adults, everybody is going to enjoy it.”

To learn more about Frankie’s Carnival Time, call 718-823-3033 or visit www.frankiescarnival.com.

And if you are looking for that perfect costume or mascot, the company also runs Frank Bee Costume Inc. from the same location. For more information, visit www.costumeman.com.

 

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