Tag Archives: Teen Cancer America

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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LIC Bar gives back to The Who’s favorite charity


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TheWho.com

They’re back for an encore.

A Sandy-struck venue that received a new sound system from music icons The Who is returning the favor by hosting a fundraiser to benefit one of the band’s favorite charities, Teen Cancer America.

LIC Bar, at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard, was inundated by seven feet of water during the superstorm, wiping out its entire cache of electronic equipment. The Who heard about the venue’s plight when LIC Bar patron Robert Basch alerted members of the band’s record label about the damage when the revered British group stopped in Brooklyn during their “Quadrophenia” tour in November.

The band donated gear from Shure Microphones and Peavey Electronics, the same state-of-the-art equipment The Who uses at their shows, to get the venue up and running again.

With its regular line-up back on track, LIC Bar wanted to show their appreciation.

“We decided to do this event in order to thank The Who for what they did for LIC Bar,” said the venue’s talent booker Gustavo Rodriguez. “We came up with the idea of throwing a fundraiser for their charity as a way to give back.”

On Saturday, February 23, LIC Bar will host a concert to benefit Teen Cancer America, an organization founded by the band that works to improve the lives of adolescents and young adults with cancer. Who’s Next, a well-known tribute band, will perform songs from the international rock group’s catalog. Godfrey Townshend, a guitarist who played with The Who’s late bassist, John Entwistle, will also perform an acoustic set.

Bill Canell, Who’s Next’s guitarist and a close friend of The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend, said the band is ecstatic about the fundraiser.

“They love it,” said Canell. “It’s all good and they’re extremely happy. Anything that gives back to a charity, they’re grateful that we’re doing it.”

Tickets for the event are $20 with all proceeds going directly to Teen Cancer America.

Additional funds will be raised through a raffle, including a valuable Gibson SG guitar, signed by Pete Townshend and several items signed by The Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey.

Rodriguez said he hopes the event will raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for Teen Cancer America.

Photo courtesy of Bill Canell

 

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