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Donation

A dog is rescued from flood waters of Hurrican Harvey in Texas. Photo from Mark Freeley's GoFundMe

After internet sensation Storm, an English golden retriever, saved a drowning fawn from Port Jefferson Harbor, now owner Mark Freely is looking to help others.

Last Chance Animal Rescue is teaming up with Freeley’s North Shore Injury Lawyer and volunteer Jeff Segal, owner of Boom Event Source, to help thousands of animals affected and displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Freeley is an animal adoption event leader, foster and pro bono attorney for Last Chance Animal Rescue on Long Island. He said the organization has a truck leaving next Wednesday, Sept. 6, being driven by Segal’s friend transporting all needed supplies to Texas, according to an email from Freeley.

There is a need for donations of dog and cat food bowls, leashes, collars, collapsible crates, cat litter and disposable litter pans.

“Last Chance has already stepped up to donate many of their existing donations to help these animals who are in dire need,” Freeley said of the Southampton-based nonprofit. “Donations will help us to send these items to Texas, and purchased items can also be donated to us.”

Items to be donated must be handed in no later than Sept. 5. Items can be brought to Freeley’s law office at 144 Woodbury Rd. in Woodbury from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., to Boom Event Source located at 11 Michael Avenue in Farmingdale from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or to the Last Chance adoption event at the Selden Petco Sept. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A truck will be dropping off supplies to the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, which is housing over 400 animals and 8,000 people, to San Antonio Pets Alive Rescue and some will also be dropped off at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, which will be taking in 200 displaced rescue animals from the Texas flooding.

“They are so desperately need our help, and as much as possible,” Freeley said. “The animals of Texas are counting on us.”

Freeley has already collected $2,200 from 41 people in less than 24 hours after creating a GoFundMe page to help the cause. The current goal is $3,000.

“Thank you for helping these poor animals,” Danielle DiNovi said with her donation.

“God bless the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” wrote Geri Napolitano with a contribution to the cause, “both big and small.”

Steve Kramer raising money to bring Berlinda to U.S. to undergo surgery on her two clubbed feet

By Desirée Keegan

Through the efforts of a retired physicist, an orthopedic surgeon from Stony Brook University and a dedicated Haitian who has since moved to Long Island, a 16-year-old from Haiti is on a path with more open doors than ever.

Berlinda was born with two clubbed feet, though she is motivated to better herself, with the dream of one day walking on her own two feet. Steve Kramer, a retired Brookhaven National Lab accelerator physicist met the student in Haiti through Life & Hope Haiti, a nonprofit founded by Haitian-American Lucia Anglade, who built the Eben Ezer School in her hometown of Milot, Haiti.

Berlinda practices arithmetic. Photo from Steve Kramer

“She had only been at the school for a few months and she was already learning basic arithmetic,” Kramer said of seeing Berlinda back in March, after meeting her during her introduction to the school in December. “I gave her two columns of work and she handed it back to me with a big smile and said, ‘more.’”

Berlinda has spirit, according to many who have met her, and Kramer was so moved by the story that he reached out to Dr. Wesley Carrion at Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s orthopedics department about performing surgery to fix the girl’s feet. He agreed to do it free of charge.

When he contacted Carrion, Kramer said his secretary Joan mentioned he was deployed in Afghanistan and she didn’t know when he would return. Within a day or two she called to tell him she’d heard from the doctor, who said he’d return by April. In May, the two met.

“I sent him copies of Berlinda’s X-rays and the video and he said he felt he could treat her and rotate the feet, and he would donate his time and get the equipment donated,” Kramer said. “That was a big relief. I felt it might become a reality.”

Carrion had informed Kramer that he would need to get the hospital to donate some of the costs, so Kramer reached out to the Department of Medicine’s Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak, who serves as vice president for health systems and chief executive officer of Stony Brook University Hospital.

What the external cages look like that will be used to repair Berlinda’s clubbed feet. Photo from Steve Kramer

“He said they would cover her hospital costs,” Kramer said after his meeting with Pasternak in July. “This was a bigger relief since beside rotating the club feet we need to check out the status of the hole her spinal column might still have from the spinal bifida she was diagnosed as having. Everyone told me the hole doesn’t close up on its own, but she is doing so well that it may have, but it needs to be checked and closed if it is still open.”

To help bring Berlinda to the United States, Kramer set up a GoFundMe to raise money for her flight cost and other post-operation expenses.

“The fundraising has been going slower than I had hoped, even though everyone I contact is verbally supportive,” he said. “As a physicist my human appeal needs a lot of improvement to really move people to give. But then I look at the video and see the determination she has and feel she will deal with it as she has the tragic events she has already endured and I know she will persevere and will learn to walk.”

Following the surgery, Berlinda will be in the hospital for four months, getting her feet rotated to stretch the tendons as part of the healing process. Her legs will be in cages called external frames that will be attached by pins drilled into her leg bones. Because these create open wounds, it’s best for her to stay the hospital instead of returning to Haiti, to keep the wounds sterile. While recovering, she will continue to go through schooling, which will be one-on-one instead of in a larger classroom back in Haiti.

Without the construction of The Eben Ezer School, Berlinda’s struggles might never have come to light for Kramer. What began as a 10-child school back in 2001 has grown to population over 400, according to Anglade.

“I took the $7,000 I received from my tax return and decided I wanted to build a school in my home country — that had been my motivation,” said Anglade, who now lives in West Babylon. “I’m so blessed. I thank God for that, say thank you all the time. It’s a big school now, and we’re still helping.”

Berlinda crawls on her hands and knees because she cannot walk with her two clubbed feet. Photo from Steve Kramer

Anglade first visited Berlinda at her house, and heard from the 16-year-old how her brothers and sisters attended school, and she wished she could join them. Because the school is far from her house, she couldn’t walk there.

“I went to her house and she was quiet, said she can’t go to school,” Anglade said. “I told her I was going to help her, and I took her to the school. I pay someone to stay with her at the school. Her dream is to walk, to learn, to be someone. She wants to be happy.”

Kramer and Stony Brook University Hospital are making her dream a reality.

“Thank God for Steve — he has a good heart and I can’t do it by myself,” Anglade said. “With all my heart, I am so happy. Steve has put in a lot of effort to helping Berlinda make her dream come true.”

Kramer first visited the Eben Ezer School through Wading River’s North Shore United Methodist Church in 2015. He joined a group visiting Haiti in February, and has since visited three more times by himself and with Anglade. They are working toward improving the facilities at the school through solar power and updating the water system.

Kramer also provided economic opportunities for students and natives of the town. He cultivated a group of farmers that grow ancient Egyptian wheat, kumat, which is exported to the U.S.

Now, he’s trying to help provide a future for Berlinda.

“She’s very positive, she’s a sponge for learning,” he said. “I just want to help this Haitian girl who has had a tragic life story so far, but has kept her joy of life and has determination to improve herself.”

Sixteen-year-old Berlinda from Haiti will be receiving surgery on her two clubbed feet at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Steve Kramer

Amy Miller, of Maine, who has helped Anglade since 2007, said she finds what Kramer is doing admirable.

“I met Berlinda and I really respect his desire to help her move forward,” she said. “You meet someone and they kind of capture your heart, and I think you have to follow your heart. That’s what he’s doing.”

Both said they are also moved by Anglade’s motivation.

“I am tremendously inspired by Lucia,” Miller said. “She’s a force. Lucia is a person that astounds most people that meet her — her energy and her commitment. She loves the kids and it’s wonderful to watch. The community once said she should be their mayor after she brought water to the school she also to the community. She’s quite something.”

Anglade said she’s just doing what she thinks is right, in giving back to her hometown.

“My four kids here go to school, they’re in college, they eat every day, but in Haiti, we don’t have enough to feed over 400 kids, so sometimes when we’re down there for a week or two, we can only feed them for one week,” Anglade said. “I can’t go every week, but if I could go every week, every month, I’d go, just to help them. For me to be able to go down there to help those students, my community, I’m so happy to do it. I really feel good about it.”

To donate to help get Berlinda to the United States and to receive the care and post-treatment she will need, visit www.gofundme.com/BerlindasMiracle. To find out more about Life and Hope Haiti, or to get involved, visit www.lifeandhopehaiti.org.

H.E.L.P. International student-athletes boast new uniforms donated from Smithtown school district. Photo from Kimberly Williams

By Desirée Keegan

Athletes in the Smithtown school district have something in common with students in Uganda thanks to the efforts of several educators from across Long Island.

Carisa Eye, a Smithtown High School East varsity field hockey assistant coach and Nesaquake Middle School lacrosse head coach, is the latest educator to get inspired to give uniforms to the H.E.L.P. International school in Masese, Uganda.

Smithtown physical education teacher Carisa Eye helped send over the most recent batch of uniforms to Uganda. Photo from Kimberly Williams

“The things we take for granted over here like uniforms, that are so easily available to us in our school district, are things that kids don’t get in other parts of the world,” Eye said. “The little things go a long way. It makes you feel good to see these kids in our jerseys, and it shows it doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. I want my athletes to understand that.”

Eye originally asked Smithtown administration to coordinate a donation to send to Ghana, after a friend and former Smithtown student, who teaches in the William Floyd school district, asked for help through Facebook. Eye was able to collect a boxful of uniforms with the help of Smithtown athletic director Pat Smith, but her friend could only take some of what she was given. She came across another Facebook post, a press release regarding Smithtown West marine science teacher Kimberly Williams and the work she’d done with her sister-in-law Carolyn Ferguson, and Eye asked Smith to connect her to Williams.

“We do have a bunch of older uniforms we don’t use, and this is a great way of putting them to use for a good cause,” Smith said. “It’s really nice to see some of our teachers wanting to get on board and we hope the kids, who know what we’re doing, can appreciate what we have here.”

The athletic director hopes the district can continue its involvement with H.E.L.P.

“Seeing the photos they look like a team — they were arm-in-arm and you can tell it made such a difference,” he said. “It’s a great thing for us to be involved in. If we can continue to do this for underprivileged kids, we will, and I hope we can.”

While the idea originated with Ferguson’s former Rockville Centre assistant superintendent Delia Garrity, who helped form the school in Uganda with her husband Peter in 2010, she said she was thrilled to hear of the spread of generosity.

Some of the Smithtown uniform donations from physical education teacher Carisa Eye went to students in Ghana. Photo from Carisa Eye

“It’s all word of mouth, which is amazing,” said Ferguson, a Rockville Centre physical education teacher. “The reach has been incredible.”

Garrity, who just returned from one of her trips to Uganda, said her student-athletes’ transformation has been palpable since being outfitted in the gear.

“When we began our athletic program, our children wore whatever clothing they had — which was not much,” she said. “They played with bare feet and kicked a dilapidated soccer ball. A soccer ball was used for volleyball with players hitting the ball over an imaginary net. When we received donations of athletic supplies and uniforms from Rockville Centre and Smithtown schools, among others, our kids were over the top with joy.”

She described some of the changes she’d seen in the young athletes since they were given the uniforms.

“They have more confidence, more belief in themselves as a team, more motivation to practice and a stronger work ethic,” she said. “Our teams win most local tournaments in soccer, volleyball, netball and track and field. Other schools do not want to play against H.E.L.P. Primary in the opening rounds of any tournament because it’s become a powerhouse.”

H.E.L.P. International school’s soccer team in Uganda received the first Smithtown uniform donation in 2015. Photo above from Delia Garrity

The idea of Smithtown contributing to the cause began when Ferguson was talking with Williams during a Christmas dinner. Also in charge of equipment and uniforms in her district, Ferguson detailed how she’d helped Garrity collect jerseys since 2013. Moved by her sister-in-law’s involvement, Williams asked for a donation from Smith, and the first batch was sent over from Smithtown in 2015.

“I think if someone is getting rid of something it should go somewhere before the garbage,” Williams said. “When resources are so limited, there’s always someone who needs it, and I work hard to make sure my kids understand that. Whether it’s uniforms or composition notebooks.”

Ferguson said the jerseys mean more to the children in Uganda than just the ability to play sports.

“Wearing the same uniform gives them pride and it encourages them to keep going,” she said. “That sense of community that perhaps they don’t normally have.”

Eye said the program also gives her pride in where she grew up and now works.

H.E.L.P. International student-athletes boast new uniforms donated from Smithtown school district. Photo from Kimberly Williams

“I love my teams and I love my town,” she said. “Smithtown has always been supportive, especially of athletics, so it didn’t surprise me when I sent an email and they got back to me right away. They’re always willing to help.”

She said she was moved seeing photos of the smiling faces of Ugandan children donning the red and blue.

“It makes me cry,” Eye said. “They wash their uniforms and lay them out to dry on rocks like prized possessions. I’m going to try to keep donating every year and have my teams participate.”

Williams already handed over another box to Ferguson that has been sitting and waiting on her dining room table. Ferguson will pass the donations, which came from one of William’s former students who teaches in Maryland, over to Garrity to take on her next trip, and the cycle will continue.

“It’s connecting kids through the uniforms,” Williams said. “Smithtown is developing the whole athlete — not just their sports abilities. That makes me thrilled to be part of this.”

For more information on H.E.L.P. International or to find out how to get involved, visit help-uganda.com.

This version corrects the URL for the H.E.L.P. Primary School’s website.

California-based Northern Imagination to contribute portion of Tesla statue sales to the Wardenclyffe site

Replicas of the Nikola Tesla statue in Silicon Valley were given to those who donated to the Kickstarter fund. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham. Photo by Terry Guyer

A love of science and invention has brought together two small startups from across the country.

Dorrian Porter learned of Nikola Tesla eight years ago, and said he was surprised by how under-recognized the inventor was. Porter, the creator of Northern Imagination — a California holding company formed in 2013 to support creative ideas, entrepreneurs and companies — had some interest in the Kickstarter platform, and decided to use it to educate others on the founder of alternating currents.

The Nikola Tesla statue funded by Northern Imagination through a Kickstarter campaign is constructed. Photo by Terry Guyer
The Nikola Tesla statue funded by Northern Imagination through a Kickstarter campaign is constructed. Photo by Terry Guyer

“Elementary school children should know about him just as they learn about [Thomas] Edison or [Alexander Graham] Bell,” he said. “Along with others in his time, Nikola Tesla worked on a range of theories and inventions that helped form the basis of our world today, including computers, x-rays, wireless communications and solar. Most people don’t realize that the transfer of power across any kind of distance over wires via alternating current is the direct work of Nikola Tesla.”

While he prepared for the project, he paid a visit to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, where he met board president Jane Alcorn.

“Dorrian Porter heard what we were doing here and came to volunteer some time and visit us one weekend,” Alcorn said. “He was inspired by what we were doing.”

And he was motivated by how the organization was able to raise more than $1 million to purchase the property.

“He’s a Tesla fan and thought it was fascinating what we were able to do,” she said. “He wanted to be helpful, like many other people across the world.”

So in 2013, Porter raised $127,000 to build a statue of Tesla in Silicon Valley in California. The campaign lasted just 30 days, and was supported by more than 700 backers, with Alcorn being one of them. The figure was sculpted by Terry Guyer, and works as a free wifi spot, while also housing a time capsule scheduled to be opened January 7, 2043. The landlord of the property where the statue now stands, Harold Hohbach, agreed to put the statue there. Hohbach began his career in the 1940s as an electrical engineer at Westinghouse, a company that was a major beneficiary and benefactor of Tesla, according to Porter.

A gift for donating was a replica of the statue, showing Tesla holding a large light bulb.

Northern Imagination founder Dorrian Porter stands with the Nikola Tesla statue he crowdfunded to build, at its permanent place in Silicon Valley, California. Photo by Terry Guyer
Northern Imagination founder Dorrian Porter stands with the Nikola Tesla statue he crowdfunded to build, at its permanent place in Silicon Valley, California. Photo by Terry Guyer

“He could [generate] power wirelessly in 1895 — so we put the magnet in the mini-replica inside the light as a random idea that we thought would be nifty, and since magnetism and electricity go together, it seemed to fit,” Porter said. “It’s hard to imagine the last 100 years without power being transported from Niagara Falls, and every other power generating plant now, to other parts of the country.”

The company held a few hundred in stock for the last few years, selling them closer to the original price of $90, which was used to raise the funds for the project. To sell the rest of the line, he lowered the price, and decided he wanted to give back in support of Tesla, by donating $3 of each sale to the science center in Shoreham.

Porter said Northern Imagination anticipates donating around $2,000.

“I am an enthusiastic supporter for seeing a permanent place of recognition established for Nikola Tesla,” he said. “By showcasing the wide range of areas Tesla worked on 100 years ago, the center will without question spark the imagination of a young girl or boy, and take our world forward the next 100 years. I hope the Tesla Science Center can be a place of recognition for Tesla and his inventions, a gathering place for people and a spot for children to learn and experiment.”

Alcorn said no matter what the science center receives, she is happy to have Northern Imagination be a part of the science center’s network. She said she also received a matching time capsule that will be placed on the grounds.

“We’re pleased that people think of us and consider us in any kind of giving,” she said. “Whether it’s their time or money or skills or connections, all of that is helpful and it’s welcomed. We appreciate it.”

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The Rev. Mary Speers says the Setauket Presbyterian Church is in a “listening phase” when it comes to mapping out a future with its share of a $100 million trust from the Gillespie family. Photo by Phil Corso

A $100 million trust has the Setauket Presbyterian Church community’s collective ear.

Along with five other philanthropic entities, the church was named a beneficiary of a $100 million charitable trust from the estates of Kingsley Gillespie and his son, Kenyon Gillespie, earlier this spring. The Rev. Mary Speers described the big news as if she were expecting a newborn baby, referring to the trust as “an incredible gift” that will change the church in more ways than they can even anticipate.

“Think about what happens when you’re expecting a baby — especially the first one,” she said. “You’re excited — you don’t want to get too excited too fast — but you can’t help yourself … it’s exciting.”

The gift carried on the philanthropic contributions that both the Kingsley and Kenyon Gillespie families have made, keeping the arts, community service and faith strong.

The charitable trust came as a result of Kenyon Gillespie’s death in March 2015, which built upon the success of his father Kingsley Gillespie and mother Doris Kenyon, who both died in the 1980s.

The Gillespie family's connection to the Setauket church is on display on a baptismal font. Photo by Phil Corso
The Gillespie family’s connection to the Setauket church is on display on a baptismal font. Photo by Phil Corso

The church and the nearby Long Island Museum were named beneficiaries along with MIT, Stamford Hospital, The Rotary Club of Stamford and The First Presbyterian Church of Stamford and will be receiving income earned by the $100 million trust. Stamford Hospital will be getting the biggest share of 50 percent, while the five others will receive 10 percent of the annual 5 percent distribution required by law of such trusts every year.

“It was a total surprise,” Speers said of the Setauket church learning of its role in the trust. “It took a long time for us to wrap our heads around it. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around it.”

In an interview, Speers said one of the biggest challenges facing the church would be making sure the money is used to enhance the community’s culture of participation. She said the entire congregation was in a “listening phase” since learning of the trust, soaking up as much information as possible before making any big decisions.

“We want to think of this as seed money and incentive money, rather than turning ourselves into a grant foundation,” she said. “The Gillespie family singled out the church as something distinct, and we’re trying to be faithful to that — to be part of the fabric of a healthy society.”

The Rev. Mary Speers says the Setauket Presbyterian Church is in a “listening phase” when it comes to mapping out a future with its share of a $100 million trust from the Gillespie family. Photo by Phil Corso
The Rev. Mary Speers says the Setauket Presbyterian Church is in a “listening phase” when it comes to mapping out a future with its share of a $100 million trust from the Gillespie family. Photo by Phil Corso

Speers said she hoped the influx of money would help strengthen integral pieces of the church’s mission that are already in place, like its open door exchange, which provides furniture to those in need. Doris Kenyon was born in 1900 in Brooklyn, but spent summers as a child in Old Field before moving there in the 1930s. She had a lifelong affection for the Three Village community, the Long Island Museum said in a press release. She was married to Kingsley Gillespie, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the two built their family in the Three Village area before retiring to Florida.

Speers said she was initially unsure of exactly how connected the Gillespie family was to the church so many decades ago, but that confusion was quickly squashed when she realized the name of Joan Kenyon Gillespie — Kingsley’s daughter — on a baptismal font that was gifted in her honor after her 1959 death.

“They were clearly a big part of this community — they loved this community,” she said.

The Setauket Presbyterian Church, founded in 1660, will benefit considerably through the charitable trust. The institution, located on the village green at Caroline Avenue in Setauket, has been a longtime home for more than 500 people of faith.

Donor Robert Frey shakes hands with the Suffolk Sharks mascot. Photo from Suffolk County Community College

A Belle Terre resident opened his wallet to give back to his alma mater last week, donating $1 million to Suffolk County Community College.

Robert Frey, through his Frey Family Foundation, made the gift as the college honored him during its annual Salute to Excellence Gala on May 5, for the foundation’s contributions to SCCC. The college said it was the largest gift from a graduate in its 58-year history.

“I tend to not do these things in the way that gets attention,” Frey said in a phone interview on Monday. But he said he thought the action would “trigger other people” to support the college.

SCCC President Shaun L. McKay, left, orders a $1 million check be unveiled. Photo from Suffolk County Community College
SCCC President Shaun L. McKay, left, orders a $1 million check be unveiled. Photo from Suffolk County Community College

Frey is a research professor at Stony Brook University and the director of its quantitative finance program, within the applied mathematics and statistics department, among other positions at SBU. He is also a businessman, serving as CEO of international investment management firm FQS Capital Partners Ltd. and of his family office, Harbor Financial Management.

He graduated from the college in 1978. His wife Kathy and daughter Megan also graduated from SCCC. After Suffolk, Frey went on to Stony Brook University, where he eventually earned a doctorate in applied mathematics.

“I never would have gotten started without Suffolk,” he said, which is why he wanted to give back.

He grew up in Brooklyn, a “lower middle class Irish-American whose access to education at a price he could afford changed his life.”

He said he hopes the $1 million will be used for capital improvements and scholarships, but he specifically “didn’t want to put too many restrictions on this” because he trusts the college officials’ judgment.

The donor “recognizes the transformative value of his foundation’s contribution and the impact it will have on the lives of our students,” college President Shaun L. McKay said in a statement. “We cannot thank him enough for his generosity and commitment to our institution.”

Frey’s name is familiar to more than just the Suffolk and SBU campus communities — he was previously a member of the Port Jefferson school board, before resigning in 2011 for health reasons. He was also once on the Mount Sinai school board when he lived in that community.

Donor Robert Frey signs the ceremonial check. Photo from Suffolk County Community College
Donor Robert Frey signs the ceremonial check. Photo from Suffolk County Community College

He has worked for his community in other ways as well.

The community college said he has also served on the boards of the nonprofit volunteer safety group The Alliance of Guardian Angels; the Port Jefferson-based nonprofit Hope House Ministries; the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City; the Suffolk Community College Foundation; and the Stony Brook Foundation.

This isn’t the first time the Frey Family Foundation has donated a large sum to a local institution — it has previously given to both Stony Brook University and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.

In the case of Suffolk Community and why it deserved support, Frey stressed that the courses are high-caliber and the college cares about its students, many of whom would not have had access to advanced education or training without it.

“It does meet the needs of so many people,” he said. “There are probably few things … where your money is going to be used more effectively than in education.”

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File photo

Winter weather has affected blood donations, and Port Jefferson’s John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, located at 75 N. Country Road, will hold a blood drive on Monday, March 7, to help.

According to the hospital, snow caused many blood drives to be canceled; so the community needs donors to help keep cancer and surgery patients, accident and burn victims, anemic patients, newborns and their mothers and AIDS patients alive.

The Mather event — which will run from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Conference Rooms 3, 4 and 5 — is open to everyone and no appointment is necessary.

Free valet parking is available at the main entrance.

Donors will receive candy, McDonald’s certificates and a gift card to Panera or Target.

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