Kids

Suffolk Stop Bullying music video contest winners announced

A Mount Sinai Middle School student will share his original anti-bullying song with hundreds of people at Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker’s concert series this summer.

Jameson Wessels, a Mount Sinai eighth-grader, was named the winner of Anker’s (D-Mount Sinai) bullying awareness music video contest on Monday. Jameson and his friend Katie Gudzik created the anti-bullying video featuring the song — called “Why?” — that will be posted on the Suffolk Stop Bullying website.

First-place winner Jameson Wessels, left, poses with second-place winner Isabela Neves. Photo by Erika Karp
First-place winner Jameson Wessels, left, poses with second-place winner Isabela Neves. Photo by Erika Karp

The site, which launched last year, provides information and resources about bullying and anti-bullying efforts. Jameson also received a $500 prize from the North Shore Youth Council.

The video showcases music written and performed by Jameson and stars Katie as a victim of cyberbullying. Savannah Moore, another student, wrote the song’s lyrics.

Jameson said he hopes the music video will show others how sad bullying can make someone feel.

“I’ve been bullied in my life and I think that it’s wrong,” he said. “It happens more often than you think.”

Fellow Mount Sinai student Isabela Neves won second place for her original song, while teachers Sommer and Margie Marchand, of Marchand’s School of Dance in Miller Place, won third place for their dancers’ performance of Colbie Caillat’s “Try.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces the winners of an anti-bullying music video contest on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp
Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces the winners of an anti-bullying music video contest on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp

Mike DelGuidice, lead singer of Big Shot, a Billy Joel tribute band; Anthony Mingoia, drummer of pop punk band Patent Pending; and Danny “Enjetic” Rivera, of the Asking Myself Association, an anti-bullying organization, judged the entries.

“There are so many ways to get a message across and I think one of the most important ways is through creative music, and that is why we chose this type of forum,” Anker said.

DelGuidice, a Miller Place native, said bullying affected his life and now, as a father, he sees how bullying still affects kids.

“[I] just thought we could all gather together as a community and actually put a stop to it and do our best to keep our eyes on it,” DelGuidice said.

Jameson, who has been bullied, said bullying is in every community and parents and administrators can’t push the issue aside. He added that other students must take a stand and not be just a bystander when they witness bullying, which can be a hard thing to do.

“I think I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve gotten older, but it is still something many people struggle with, including me,” he said.

Setauket Elementary students Julian McGrath, left, and Conor Matthews share a moment and a smile with their Jefferson’s Ferry friend, resident Betty Bangert. Photo from Kathleen Caputi

Spirits were high when 25 fifth-grade students from Adrienne D’Onofrio’s Setauket Elementary school class recently enjoyed a farewell lunch at Jefferson’s Ferry Lifecare Retirement Community.

Over the course of the school year, the students have partnered with Jefferson’s Ferry’s Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing residents, enjoying companionship, crafting, cooking, learning and fun.

Well-loved by students and residents alike, the Intergenerational Program was conceived 10 years ago by Setauket Elementary teacher Ellen Young, who is now retired but is still active in the program, with Jefferson Ferry Director of Therapeutic Recreation Jennifer Barrett.

Generally, a dozen or so residents engage with the children in small groups during monthly visits.

“You can’t even imagine how much the children look forward to seeing the residents at our visits,” D’Onofrio said. “It has really made an impact on both the students and the residents. Together they’ve written poems, played games, built candy houses, and cooked up a Thanksgiving feast. It’s been a great year.”

The farewell luncheon is always an emotional and memorable event, with barely a dry eye among the adults in attendance. The children get all dressed up, parents are invited, and a lunch is served in the rotunda at Jefferson’s Ferry’s main building. This year, on May 21, the children read aloud letters to the residents and performed Randy Newman’s song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

“The students and the residents become very close over the course of the year,” said Barrett. “We attended the school’s talent show and the kids ended up cheering for us. It made our residents feel loved and very special. We’ve also had numerous students return over the years, either to visit their friends or give community service. It’s very gratifying and a win-win for everyone.”

Student Harry Rosenzweig wrote a note to resident Jim Ardolino.

“I want to thank you so much for playing spoons with me that Thursday we came in April. You made me realize that my hair is way too long and that I can’t see with [it] in my eyes! I got it cut that weekend and I saw the world in a new way! The stories you told about how athletic your childhood was were so awesome and interesting. Thank you for being the coolest resident ever.”

Another student, Julianna Lorber, said that, “I’ve had such an amazing experience coming to see all of the residents. … Thank you for always making me leave with a smile on my face.”

Mary Bafundi, a 95-year-old Jefferson’s Ferry resident, has participated in the Intergenerational Program since she moved into Assisted Living more than five years ago. Today Mary lives in Skilled Nursing, but pilots her electric power chair to keep up with her young friends.

She’s helped plant flowers with the children, baked with them, attended their talent shows and told them her stories. As the oldest of 13 children, Mary spent most of her life first tending to her siblings and then her own children.

Joining Mary in the program are residents Giselle McGann, Dorothy Catania, Jim Ardolino, David Wooster, Nina Sloan, Betty Bangert and Lisa Goldschmidt. In addition to Henry and Julianna, D’Onofrio’s students are: Ashley Bunici, Hazel Cash, Jean Chung, Faith Curth, Melaina Gargano, Toni Amber Hemmerick, Kaitlyn Hernandez, Kristopher Furnari, Maia Le Lay, David Liang, Giani Mascolo, Conor Matthews, Julian McGrath, Mark O’Brien, Samuel Ribeiro-DiCanio, Lindsay Rodgers, Ben Sheline, Sohum Singh, Hannah Toirac, Melissa Vivenzio and Dylan Zummo.

Two girls haul a full trash bag at Washington Avenue park after community members worked on May 16 to clean it up. Photo from Dina Simoes

The Comsewogue community came out in full force on a rainy Saturday to clean up their hometown.

Washington Avenue park is buried behind trash bags after community members worked on May 16 to clean it up. Photo from Dina Simoes
Washington Avenue park is buried behind trash bags after community members worked on May 16 to clean it up. Photo from Dina Simoes

In honor of the eighth annual Great Brookhaven Cleanup, residents hit Washington Avenue park, at the corner of Oak Street in Port Jefferson Station, and School Street Park, on School Drive in Terryville behind John F. Kennedy Middle School.

According to Dina Simoes, one of the Washington Avenue organizers, there were more than 50 volunteers at that site, many of them students.

At the smaller but equally enthusiastic cleanup at School Street Park, some kids were led in their beautification efforts by Old Town Blooms founder Craig den Hartog.

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Morning winners in last year’s tournament: Owen Murnane, third prize; Rosmary Deutsch, first prize; Stevie Rosenfeld, second prize. Photo from Carole Paquette

Calling all little anglers.

Angelo Lupo with his sixth fish, which garnered him first prize for the most fish caught in the afternoon session of last year’s tournament. Photo from Carole Paquette
Angelo Lupo with his sixth fish, which garnered him first prize for the most fish caught in the afternoon session of last year’s tournament. Photo from Carole Paquette

The 13th annual Junior Angler Fishing Tournament, sponsored by the Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve, will take place on Saturday, June 6, at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown.

There will be two groups fishing: ages 5-8 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; and ages 9-12, from 1 p.m.  to 3 p.m. Trophies will also be awarded in the three categories at each fishing session.

The fee will be $10 per entry for anglers of Friends members, $15 for anglers of non-members. The entry fee includes bait, junior angler tee shirts, refreshments, goody bags and tackle.

Fishing rods are available if required. Those interested must register by Saturday, May 30.

Call (631) 265-1054 or (631) 979-3371 for details.

For more information about Friends activities, and events, visit friendsofcalebsmith.org

Kaylee Corrar, 4, held a food drive to benefit the group’s food pantry. She is pictured with her sister, Abby, 3. Photo from Katie Corrar

A 4-year-old Selden girl has warmed the hearts of many after organizing a spring food drive that helped feed close to 70 needy families in the Middle Country community.

Kaylee Corrar, a preschool student at Unity Drive Pre-K/Kindergarten Center in Centereach, was discussing an upcoming Disney cruise with her parents when they explained to her how lucky she was. Kaylee questioned what it meant and her parents explained that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. That’s when the idea hit the 4-year-old.

Through the Kaylee Cares Spring Food Drive, Kaylee Corrar helped feed nearly 70 families in the Middle Country community. Photo from Katie Corrar
Through the Kaylee Cares Spring Food Drive, Kaylee Corrar helped feed nearly 70 families in the Middle Country community. Photo from Katie Corrar

“She stood up and said she was going to feed the homeless,” her mom, Katie Corrar, said.

Kaylee hosted a two-week-long food drive in March called the Kaylee Cares Spring Food Drive to benefit the Selden Centereach Youth Association’s Helping Hand Food Pantry in Centereach.

“I heard that people was homeless,” Kaylee said. “I feel bad.”

Kaylee’s mom and grandmother, Janet Taggart Corrar, of Yaphank, helped spread the word through social media and before she knew it, Kaylee was receiving boxes of food from family all over the country. Boxes filled with canned vegetables, pancake mix, syrup and more came from Kansas, Florida and Pennsylvania.

“It felt good when opening boxes because I really wanted to feed the families,” Kaylee said.

With some help from grandma, her parents and her 3-year-old sister, Abby, Kaylee filled their living room with food. The family even did some shopping of their own, visiting Trader Joe’s, ShopRite and Target where they bought meat, fresh vegetables and toiletries.

Taggart Corrar even reached out to her friends at Gallagher Bassett Services, an international insurance agency with a location in Melville. The office ran a food drive in Kaylee’s honor and raised enough food to fill a third van with goods.

Kaylee Corrar, 4, poses with her certificate of appreciation from the Selden Centereach Youth Association. Photo by Barbara Donlon
Kaylee Corrar, 4, poses with her certificate of appreciation from the Selden Centereach Youth Association. Photo by Barbara Donlon

According to Sal Bush, the youth association’s executive director, the pantry was in desperate need of the food. He said Kaylee’s donations helped feed between 60 and 70 local families.

“I kid you not, this little girl was instrumental in getting this food,” Bush said. “We were fortunate enough that Kaylee came to the realization that people were hungry.”

The Middle Country school district and the Selden Centereach Youth Association recognized Kaylee’s hard work at a April 22 school board meeting. Mother Corrar couldn’t contain the pride she had for her daughter.

“I feel our heart is bursting with pride,” she said. “I’m not surprised, she’s always been like this. She’s caring and always goes out of the way.”

Taggart Corrar called herself Kaylee’s biggest fan.

“As a grandma, I can’t not have tears,” she said. “It’s very moving and inspiring to see a 4-year-old do this.”

The family hopes to make the food drive a tradition. And while Kaylee will help out, she also plans to tackle another issue.

“I’m going to recycle and pick up garbage at the beach because I don’t want the animals to get sick.”

Marissa Pastore and her mom, flanked by Disney characters. Photo from Katrina Kurczak

A 14-year-old Huntington Station girl who was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness got the wish of her life on Sunday when her favorite Disney characters came out to celebrate with her.

Marissa Pastore, who has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on April 20, was treated at the Cohen Children’s Center, but her fragile body was unable to handle the chemotherapy, according to a GoFundMe online fundraising account set up for the family. A few days later, Marissa returned home with her mom Risa, dad Domenick and two brothers Domenick and Ryan, to enjoy their final days together.

Marissa’s mom is an emergency department nurse at Huntington Hospital and her dad is a former Huntington Manor Fire Department chief and a fireman with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), according to the account. Both are volunteers at the Huntington Manor Fire Department, and the account was set up so the family could “concentrate solely on loving Marissa.”

Marissa Pastore, 14, gets the surprise of a lifetime when Disney characters visit her. Photo from Katrina Kurczak
Marissa Pastore, 14, gets the surprise of a lifetime when Disney characters visit her. Photo from Katrina Kurczak

“Please help us support the Pastore family with any donation you can make which will go toward covering their living expenses while they take time off from work to celebrate Marissa’s life together.”

Not only did the account amass more than $55,000 by Wednesday, Marissa got a special surprise when Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Olaf and other characters from popular Disney movies greeted the 14-year-old Disney lover, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

According to Katrina Kurczak, one of Marissa’s wish granters and assistant director of program services for Make-A-Wish, the nonprofit group and the family put together Marissa’s wish quickly. Family and community members contacted them Tuesday, April 28, and the group met with the family Wednesday. On Sunday, her wish came true.

“She was surprised and so happy, she couldn’t believe it,” Kurczak said. The characters rode in on fire trucks and greeted her.

The goal was to bring Disney to her, as Marissa is unable to travel due to her condition. Disney princesses Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” also made a special appearance and sang to the young girl.

“Her dad wanted to do something to make her smile,” Kurczak said.

Many volunteers came together to help make the day as special as possible. The Huntington Manor Fire Department, Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department and the FDNY also helped make Marissa’s wish come true.

To donate to the Pastore family, visit http://www.gofundme.com/sus6z8.

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The Comsewogue School District will be conducting a lottery to determine which students will be attending its half-day pre-kindergarten program this fall.

The lottery will be held at the district office on Monday, June 15, at 11 a.m.

Applications will be mailed to all district residents and are also available in the main office of each of the district’s schools and at the district office.

Completed applications are due back to the district office by 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

Contact Jennifer Reph, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, at 631-474-8110, with any questions.

Johnny Cuomo sings to a group of children at the 2013 Middle County Public Library Apple Festival in Centereach. Photo by Kristin Cuomo

By Sue Wahlert

It’s quite possible that Mount Sinai’s Johnny Cuomo lives, breathes and sleeps music. Added to his life’s obsession are his love of cultures, nature, children and storytelling. He is a multidimensional music man who is lovingly known to many as “Mr. C.” As he says in his online introduction video, he is “deeply connected with nature, music, children and stories for children.”

However, there is even more to Cuomo than his guitar or his penny whistle.  There is a wisdom that lives within him.  It is a culmination of family vacations to the National Parks, his time spent volunteering on Indian Reservations in California and backpacking and studying abroad in Ireland, his dedication to religion and his need to make music. With all of this information, he has made it his life’s work to share his knowledge with children and adults through his musical storytelling profession and his performances in Irish Pubs.

At a very young age, Cuomo’s Stony Brook family began laying the groundwork for the man he has become.

“My parents had me interested in wolves, birds and bears,” said Cuomo. In college, Cuomo discovered the world of bird watching and is now an avid watcher. He uses his knowledge to incorporates tales of birds into some of his early childhood education programs.

Because Cuomo was exposed to history at a very young age, he was open to the experiences of volunteering at the Vieajas and Barona Indian Reservations in San Diego. “At night I would hang out with the elders. This enabled me to learn about their cultures and share my culture,” reflected Cuomo. This was also the first time Cuomo had the opportunity to work with children. “It solidified my love of working with children,” he said.

Cuomo’s love of Irish music was ignited during the two months he spent backpacking in Ireland, where he carried his belongings and a guitar. “I wanted to learn stories, music and history of the Irish,” he said. Upon returning home, he knew he had to go back, but this time would be via a study abroad program.  During his eight months of study, Cuomo learned to play the tin whistle, banjo and mandolin, and began performing Irish music.

In the late 1990s, Cuomo formed the popular Irish band, Gallowglass. Although they are no longer together, the musicians sometimes collaborate.  Currently you can see Cuomo on most Sunday nights performing Irish music at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle on 2nd Ave. in New York City.

Cuomo understands the vital importance of music in the life of children and adults. He offers private instruction and also has a wide range of children’s programs for Preschoolers through 12th grade. For more than seven years, Cuomo has been doing a weekly music program at the Chatterbox Day School in East Islip.

Director Lindsay Parker said of Cuomo, “The children look forward to their weekly music classes with “Mr. C.” They are fun, creative and exciting. Johnny brings a new dimension to children’s music that is rare to find!”
You might also find Cuomo on stage at the outdoor classroom at Play Groups School in East Setauket, strumming on his guitar while the preschoolers act out musical stories as they sing and dance.  Educational Director Maddy Friedman applauds Cuomo, saying “he is an exceptional music educator who brings his joy and love of music to our school.” Cuomo is scheduled to perform at the school’s annual May Fair on May 30.

Since 2000, Cuomo has also shared his talents at the Comprehensive Kids Developmental School, a public, special needs preschool on the lower east side of Manhattan. The opportunity to work with the special needs population has impressed upon Cuomo the importance of therapeutic music. “I can reach these kids with my music,” said Cuomo. “I have a special drum I use, where they can feel the vibration, and also a whistle, so they can feel the air move. It is a gift to be able to work with these kids.” Annemarie Fuschetti, the school’s former psychologist, said of Cuomo, “Everyone lights up when Johnny comes. Even those with the most difficult behaviors.”

One might wonder how one person can do all of this? Cuomo laughed as he said, “I have a number of part-time jobs that add up to more than a full-time job. I have traded sleep for time with my family.” His two boys, Johnny, 7, and Paul, 6, are also music lovers and have been to hundreds of their father’s gigs.  Recently, Cuomo was invited to play at Walt Disney World with a group of fellow Irish musicians. Fortunately his wife and sons were invited to be part of this journey, to experience the park and see Cuomo play an Irish music and dance show at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Downtown Disney.

More recently, Cuomo signed with manager Jean Marie Keevins of Little Shadow Productions. Keevins will serve as a liaison to other writers and companies with whom Cuomo might be able to collaborate and sell his original ideas to. The professional arena is wide open, from books to theater to animation. It is an exciting time for the artist.

Additionally, Cuomo is excited to be heading off to Alaska this July for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, where he will be teaching workshops and playing concerts focused on traditional Irish and American Folk music.

To top it off, the never weary Cuomo and his wife Kristin will be running their weeklong summer program, “Birds of a Feather Nature Camp.” Based out of the Setauket Neighborhood House, they have been running this outdoor program for more than 13 years. “We want to get kids to go outside and observe all that is here locally. It is an opportunity to see what’s in your backyard,” said Cuomo. The camp combines music, nature, crafts and hiking, all of which encourage kids to connect with nature and music.

Check out Cuomo’s website at www.johnnycuomo.com to learn more about his programs, listen to some of his CDs and check on upcoming shows. Any time spent with Cuomo is a time to remember, as his stories and music live on in the minds and hearts of many.

From left, Bobby Montaniz, Amanda Geraci and James D. Schultz in ‘The Littlest Pirate.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Avast ye! Theatre Three’s world premiere of the musical adventure, “The Littlest Pirate,” which opened last Saturday, takes us from a baseball diamond to a treasure hunt on Diamond Isle and is a rollicking home run.

Written by Tim Peierls and Jeffrey Sanzel, the play tells the story of Annalise, a young girl who wants to play on the Petaluma Pirates Little League baseball team who are always losing to the Rovers from Roger’s Refrigeration. When the coach tells her that the only way she can be on the team is to cheat, Annalise is torn between playing a sport she loves and doing the right thing. She falls asleep on a bench and is swept away into a Pirate Dreamland where she faces the same dilemma when she encounters a band of pirates who want her to switch a real treasure map with a fake one.

Sanzel, who also directed the show, has gathered an enormously talented group of seven adult actors who all tackle duel roles with inexhaustible energy. The petite Amanda Geraci is the perfect choice to play Annalise, the littlest pirate. An incredible actress and singer, Geraci’s solo, “Always Wanted to Play Baseball,” is amazing.

James D. Schultz shines as Coach Wallop and Captain Pyrate who only speaks Pyrish. The one and only Bobby Montaniz is hilarious as he tells numerous jokes as Bobbo and Pirate Parrot. Hans Paul Hendrickson plays the role of twins, Fred and Norville and the Pirate Forvilles, which wasn’t an easy task, but he pulls it off with ease. Jenna Kavaler is wonderful as Jenny, the Petaluma Pirates’ best baseball player who really just wants to play the oboe. Evelyne Lune, as Erin Petaluma and The Pirate Queen, is the all-knowing matriarch of the group and switches roles effortlessly. Rounding out the cast is Andrew Gasparini as Boyd and Pirate Boyd, a terrific actor who has found his own niche on stage and clearly enjoys what he’s doing.

Although the set is minimal with only a few props, costume designer Margaret Ward has spared no expense with matching baseball uniforms and colorful pirate outfits. Choreographed by Marquéz Stewart and accompanied on piano by Peierls and on bass by David Goldberg, the musical numbers are superb, especially “How to Speak Pyrish” and the delightful “Great Day for a Treasure Hunt,” which you will be humming on your way out of the theater.

As with most children’s shows at Theatre Three, there are moral lessons sprinkled throughout the performance. In this case, kids will learn about cheating and the everlasting lesson of “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” It is no easy task getting a young audience to sit still for periods at a time, but “The Littlest Pirate” does the trick. No restlessness here  — just children sitting wide-eyed on the edge of their seats, enthralled by the enchantment of live theater. Kids of all ages will enjoy “The Littlest Pirate.” It is funny, entertaining and a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

The entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for a meet and greet and photo opportunities.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Littlest Pirate” on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. through May 9. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Community rallies to raise $1,000 after funds go missing

The Mickey Mouse collection box that Sound Beach’s Kristen Abbondondelo decorated. Photo from Kerri Bové

By Erin Dueñas

Community members from Rocky Point and Sound Beach opened their wallets and their hearts over the weekend to replace a local family’s lost Disney vacation fund.

Sound Beach mother of three Kerri Bové had $1,000 cash in an envelope tucked in her purse on April 1, ready to use the funds to pay back a friend who had laid out the money for plane tickets to the amusement park.

Bové first had to drop her daughter off at a local gymnastics center where she used some of that cash to pay for tickets to an upcoming recital.

“I went to hand over my credit card to pay for the tickets when they told me it was cash only,” Bové said.
While a line formed behind her, she said she carefully thumbed through the Disney money to get out the amount she needed for the recital tickets.

Notes support the Bové family. Photo from Kerri Bové
Notes support the Bové family. Photo from Kerri Bové

In midst of the transaction, Bové started a conversation with her daughter’s gymnastics teacher and tended to her crying 2-year-old. She then left the facility to stop at the bank to replace the cash she had just used for the recital, and headed out to meet her friend to pay her for the tickets.

Less than a half hour later, Bové was tearing apart her car and her purse, searching everywhere for the money but it was nowhere to be found.

“My heart was pounding, I was searching frantically,” Bové said. “It was totally gone.”

In a panic, Bové called the gymnastics place hoping she had left the envelope there, but they said they couldn’t find it. She drove back to see if she dropped it in the parking lot, but still turned up empty.

“I was getting choked up thinking about all the months we spent planning this trip,” Bové said, noting that her husband Ray had been working 16-hour days, seven days a week to pay for it. “I was sick to my stomach. There was no way we would be able to pay my friend back and re-buy the tickets.”

The couple filed a police report, but the officer told them there was little chance that the money would turn up. That night, she took to the Rocky Point and Sound Beach community pages on Facebook to make a plea to the person who took the money.

“Please I beg you if you know anything or accidently took the money PLEASE return it,” Bové wrote. “I know we live in a good community and I want to show my children there are good, honest people in this world.”
“I was hoping the person who took it would see it,” Bové said. “I wanted them to just return it and to know that my kids were devastated.”

Bové said that the trip would be the first her family had taken since suffering a series of losses over the past few years, including the sudden deaths of her brother and nephew, as well as the death of her father just last year.

“We were so looking forward to it since the past couple of years had been so hard for us.”

Bové said she never dreamt of the response she got to her post. Soon community members sought to replace the $1,000. Roseann Sobczak and Mary Heely, neither of whom Bové had met, put out the call on Facebook to get the money back.

Notes support the Bové family. Photo from Kerri Bové
Notes support the Bové family. Photo from Kerri Bové

“I was devastated for them,” Heely of Rocky Point said. “I thought to myself I wish I had a $1,000 to give them and then thought, what if everyone could donate a little and maybe then we could recoup the loss.”

Sound Beach’s Kristen Abbondondelo jumped at the idea. She decorated a box in Mickey Mouse paper and sat in the gymnastics center for six hours while donations from people that had seen the Facebook post trickled in.

Abbondondelo estimated that at least 50 people dropped off money that day and still more donated the next day when the box was posted at another location in Rocky Point.

“They were all there to right a wrong and to show how much they cared,” she said. “People were concerned about there not being enough.”

Bové said her family was able to recoup the loss and the trip is on for May. She said she was greatly touched by the messages included with the donations. One child drew a picture of Cinderella’s castle and told the family to have fun. Another note was decorated with rainbows and hearts. One said how grateful they were to be part of the Rocky Point community. Yet another included the message that “miracles do happen.”

“It put pure happiness in my heart that my community did this for me,” Bové said. “It regained my faith that there are so many who are good.”

Bové said she credits her angels in heaven — her brother, nephew and father — and the ones on Earth for the happy ending.

“I feel my angels pulled through for me,” she said. “That the whole community pulled through for us, it is something we will never forget.”

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