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Fundraiser

Annual Asharoken swim to benefit Alzheimer's disease research raises more than $6,000

By Talia Amorosano

On Tuesday morning, more than 20 kayakers and swimmers gathered for the 12th Annual Distant Memories Swim, an event created and organized by Bryan Proctor, a Harborfields physical education teacher, to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Participants traveled two nautical miles from Asharoken Beach in Northport to Knollwood Beach in Huntington and were cheered on by family members and supporters who waited and watched the event from shore. This year’s event has raised more than $6,000 for the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center so far, and over the course of its existence, has raised over $100,000. Organizers hope that the money will eventually help researchers find a cure for this increasingly prevalent disease.

Sinai ‘The Mountain’ Megibow is going to step into the ring for charity. Photo from Jen Vaglica

This charity packs a punch.

In this corner, Commack native Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow, 41, is one of 20 determined volunteers who will be boxing for charity this Nov. 23 for the 12th annual Long Island Fight for Charity. The mission is to raise money for local charities by putting volunteers from around the Island in the ring for head-to-head fights in front of spectators who buy tickets for the event.

Megibow, who lives in Commack with his wife and three daughters, said he is eager to contribute to the greater community of Long Island.

He is a founding partner of Radius Investigations, a specialized private investigative and security-consulting firm in Melville. He is also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association and a member of the Long Island Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

“I have very much wanted to get involved in something fun for the community,” Megibow said in a phone interview, adding that he felt this was the perfect event.

Every boxer is required to raise $5,000 for multiple charities including the Long Island Community Chest, The Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential. But if they raise more than the minimum, contestants can send half of the excess funding to a charity of their choice.

Megibow said he has his eyes set on the Michael Magro Foundation if he is able to raise more than $5,000. The foundation focuses on bettering the lives of children with cancer as well as other chronic pediatric illnesses.

A scene from a previous Long Island Fight for Charity event. Photo from Long Island Fight for Charity
A scene from a previous Long Island Fight for Charity event. Photo from Long Island Fight for Charity

“I am far from an expert in boxing,” he said. “I’m much more an enthusiast. But I do very much enjoy training in martial arts, and I have done a little bit of kickboxing as well.”

In fact, Megibow said he is more anxious about raising the amount of funds he needs than he is for the actual fight.

“[My wife is] more nervous about raising the money as well, but I’ve got a pretty big support group,” Megibow said.

Each person who buys a ticket for the event also has to choose one fighter to support. For this fight, Megibow said he hopes he can garner some sponsors from larger clients and pair that with help from his family and friends.

Each boxer is also required to undergo a certain amount of training before they can step into the ring. Trained boxers volunteer their time to help get each contestant into fighting shape, according to Megibow.

Although he doesn’t have any strategies yet aside from training as much as possible, once it’s determined who he will fight against, he said he’ll start to think more about how to approach his opponent. For example, if his opponent is taller than him, he’ll focus on low strikes.

As for Megibow’s fight name, The Mountain, it’s a direct reference to his first name, Sinai — after Mount Sinai, the mountain that he was named after.

“This is a great organization — as much money as possible goes straight to the charities they’re involved with, and I’m excited about it,” he said. “I think the fight itself is going to be fun.”

Although the fight is going to be on a little too late for Megibow’s kids, he said he’s hoping to set them up with the pay-per-view channel that will be airing the fight, so that “they can watch their dad get beat up,” Megibow said.

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Photo from Jeff Bressler

The Smithtown Fire Department is in the final stages of having its historic 1935 Mack Ladder Truck fully restored. A Department Restoration Committee has been given the task of having this piece of Long Island history returned to its former glory.

The restoration is not using Fire Department funds or taxpayer dollars for the project. The entire restoration is being funded by the generosity of Smithtown Fire Department members and the general community.

For the second consecutive year the Restoration Committee will host a chicken barbecue at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1, featuring the sounds of South Bound, a popular Long Island country band. Entry is $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the event.

Last year’s event was enthusiastically received with hundreds of music lovers in attendance to enjoy a complete BBQ chicken dinner, hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, beer and wine. The event is held on the scenic Nissequogue River at the department’s River Property, located behind 419 West Main St., Smithtown.

One of 20 Long Island business professionals gearing up for annual Long Island Fight for Charity in November

Rhonda Klch gloves up for last year’s Long Island Fight for Charity. This year, Klch will head back into the ring for the charity match, which raises money for the Long Island Community Chest. Photo from Corbett PR

By Rachel Siford

Mount Sinai’s Rhonda “Master of Financial Disaster” Klch is heading back into the ring on Nov. 23, 2015, for her second Long Island Fight for Charity match.

Klch is the founder and CEO of Equity First, LLC, a financial advising firm based in Coram. She started the company in 2004.

The charity boxing match raises money for the Long Island Community Chest, a nonprofit organization that provides short-term financial support to needy families and individuals who have suffered a crisis. Last year, Klch left her match victorious.

Klch was inspired to participate in the fight when she heard the money was going to the Community Chest. More than $850,000 has been donated to Long Island charities since its inception 12 years ago.

“Due to the fact that my firm works heavily in budget planning and helping clients that are in financial distress, I felt it was very close to what we do,” Klch said.

Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR
Rhonda Klch left the ring with a victory last year. Photo from Corbett PR

Preparing for the match takes time. Fight for Charity requires all participants get a physical exam. Fighters also have to check in at certified gyms to track how much they are training. Boxers typically need to complete three to four days of cardio a week, with two or more days of sparring.

Klch will have to wait until September to find out who she will be fighting on the night of the event.

“Right now, I have to train like I’m going to get my butt kicked,” Klch said smiling. “I have no idea who it is going to be yet.”

Klch and her company try to get involved with many organizations.

Equity First is also involved with The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which supplies hearing aides to those who can’t afford them, and Pink Tie, a cancer research fundraiser. Last year, the company sponsored 160 children from the Longwood community who were either homeless or in transient housing and provided them with their holiday gifts. Klch is also on the Friends of Karen, which supports critically ill children and their families, Long Island advisory board.

“We have a pretty good corporate culture here,” Klch said. “Everyone wants to chip in and help out; it’s almost a prerequisite for their employment.”

Prior to founding Equity First, Klch was a branch manager for First West Mortgage Bankers. She actually started Equity First as a side business while still working at the bank.

“I’m just very entrepreneurial by nature,” Klch said. “I feel like I am a good leader and I like having my own concepts and being able to see them through from start to finish.”

Klch said staying involved with charities helps people learn about their communities and issues they may not have realized existed.

“You just never know enough about yourself until you put yourself into an uncomfortable position,” Klch said. “You’ll never grow if you never go out of your comfort zone.”

For more information on the event go to www.lifightforcharity.org.

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Ursula Costanzo and her husband, Vince. Photo from Ursula Costanzo

By Rachel Siford

The Miller Place and Mount Sinai communities are coming together to support a fellow resident in her time of need.

Five years ago, Ursula Costanzo, of Mount Sinai, started the parent Facebook group, Mt. Sinai/Miller Pl. Moms, which has more than 2,600 members.

She started the group to unite the communities, since they don’t have a town center. Group members share information, ask questions and have friendly discussions. If someone needs a repairman or landscaper recommendation, the Facebook group is the place to go.

In May, the wife and mom suffered an aneurysm and a stroke, which has since kept her in the hospital and rehab facilities. Costanzo is currently at St. Johnland Nursing Center for rehabilitation and has had various surgeries.

Now, Costanzo’s close friends and other administrators of the Facebook group have pulled together to create a fundraiser to help the family with medical and childcare bills, as her and her husband’s insurance only covers so much.

On Aug. 16, the nine-person committee will present Rock the Range at Willow Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai from 2 to 7 p.m. The event will have a barbecue, raffle and live music.

“Ursula has been one my best friends for 15 years,” Melissa Goodman, of Mount Sinai, said. “It was mine and my husband’s idea to start this fundraiser because Ursula always liked to help people and has always been so altruistic.”

Denise May, one of the Facebook group administrators and close friend of Costanzo’s, said the event will be a fun community day, which is what Costanzo is all about.

“Ursula is one those happy, dynamic people who runs in a bunch of different crowds,” May said. “She is a very happy, positive person.”

May is also in charge of a GoFundMe site to benefit the Costanzo family. The site has already raised more than $3,400. Their goal is $20,000.

Eight local bands will be playing at the event, and Goodman added there will be grand prizes at the fundraiser, like a television and vacation packages.

“She is a wonderful mom, a wonderful person and a wonderful friend,” Goodman said. “Everyone loves her; that’s why everyone is helping out.”

Costanzo’s other close friend, Cynthia Liendo, of Mount Sinai, is in charge of the ticket sales. She said the committee is expecting between 200 and 400 people.

“She really, truly cares about people and went out of her way to smile,” Liendo said about Costanzo.

A stroke survivor will speak at Rock the Range.

Costanzo’s friends and family said she is fighting hard to get through this.

“She volunteers at school, the kids are familiar with her and she has many friends,” Liendo said. “Her absence has really been felt.”

Tickets for Rock the Range are $25. Children 5 and under are free. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, contact rocktherange4Ursula@gmail.com.

A scene from last year’s event. Photo by Bea Ruberto

By Ernestine Franco

Help the best and brightest young people in our community by attending this year’s Sound Beach Civic Association scholarship fundraiser — a food fair and raffle auction that will allow the Civic to award $1,000 scholarships to two high school seniors for the seventh consecutive year.  The event will be held on Sunday, July 12, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Sound Beach Firehouse, 152 Sound Beach Blvd., Sound Beach.

Come sample steak tidbits, baked clams, General Tso’s chicken, eggplant parmigiana and more, as more than a dozen area restaurants have donated their signature dishes, including CaraMia Restaurant, Papa Francesco’s, Great Wall and Hartlin Inn of Sound Beach; Sea Basin and J & R’s Steakhouse of Rocky Point;  Tuscany Gourmet Market, CP La Manno’s, Miller Place Pastaria, Rubino’s and Fusilli Restaurant of Miller Place; and Land & Sea Restaurant of Mt. Sinai. Coffee will be provided by Starbuck’s in Miller Place and dessert will include two cakes (one a chocolate mousse, the other a vanilla creme), creme puffs, eclairs and cookies.

A scene from last year’s event. Photo by Bea Ruberto
A scene from last year’s event. Photo by Bea Ruberto

More than 50 great raffle prizes, donated by local merchants and individuals, will be raffled off, including artwork, housewares, pet products, kids’ games, wine baskets, a lotto tree, home décor and a variety of gift certificates, including one valued at $500 from Reality Carpet in Rocky Point. The door prize will be a flower arrangement donated by Flowers on Broadway in Rocky Point.

Nicole Berg and Megan McCarthy, this year’s recipients of the scholarships, will be in attendance and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who has been a strong supporter of this worthy cause from the beginning, will be on hand to honor their achievements. “The Sound Beach Civic does so many wonderful things for Sound Beach,” Bonner said, “and this is just one of them. It’s a great opportunity to honor their annual scholarship winners, meet great new people, catch up with old friends and try some yummy, local food.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)will be there to honor former Civic president John Moerlins, who passed away several years ago. A copy of a testimonial that will go into the Congressional Record will be presented to John Moerlins’ widow, Audrey Moerlins.

Civic president Bea Ruberto fondly recalls one of the previous recipients, Cassidy Bohan. “Cassidy was one of the first to receive the scholarship,” Ruberto said, “and she keeps in touch and has done so well.” Bohan attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and is currently working in advertising as a campaign manager.

When asked what receiving the scholarship meant to her, Bohan said, “It was an honor to receive the support of a community that I love so much.”

“It’s been so gratifying to be part of this,” Ruberto said, “and I hope to see a lot of people at this year’s event.”

Tickets are $20 each, $18 each for a table of eight, $10 for children under 12, and free for children under 6. For more information or to order tickets, call 631-744-6952.

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Boy Scout Troop 45 and Cub Scout Pack 41 are hosting a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help make their activities sweeter.

The breakfast will take place on Sunday, May 17, from 8:30 a.m. until noon, at the Port Jefferson firehouse on Maple Place.

Scouts are selling tickets for the breakfast. Those tickets are $5 each and may be purchased at the door on the day of the breakfast fundraiser. Children under 6 are free.

All proceeds from the pancake breakfast benefit troop and pack activities and help defray the cost of summer camp for individual Scouts.

Both the troop and pack are sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson.

Volunteers help out in the garden at the Bethel Hobbs Community Farm, located on Oxhead Road in Centereach. File photo

By Jenni Culkin

A small Centereach farm, about 11 acres in size, is reaching out to the community to raise the funds necessary to continue doing its good work.

The farm has been growing vegetables and other crops to donate to food pantries and people in need since 2007, according to Peter Castorano, one of Bethel Hobbs Community Farm’s caretakers, who lives in the sole house on the property.

“Ann started it all,” said Castorano.

That Ann is Ann Pellegrino.

The Centereach woman discovered the farm, which wasn’t too far from her house, after she sought a place to continue gardening and donating the crops to the poor.

Former Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Kathy Walsh and farm Director Ann Pellegrino put their backs into it at Hobbs Farm. File photo
Former Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Kathy Walsh and farm Director Ann Pellegrino put their backs into it at Hobbs Farm. File photo

Alfred Hobbs willed the farm to the Bethel AME Church, its owner since 1955. Pellegrino decided to take over the farm’s maintenance, although it is still owned by Bethel Church. She is now the vice president of the farm, which donates tens of thousands of pounds of crops to those in need each year.

The farm has recently experienced an invasion by wild deer, which are eating some of the farm’s crops. The deer eating the crops has significantly lowered the overall productivity of the farm.

“It costs a lot to maintain the farm,” Pellegrino said.

For this reason, an inaugural 4-mile run, which will take place on Saturday, Aug. 22, at 9 a.m., will help raise money for a higher fence to prevent further invasion by the deer population. Advanced registration is $20. In addition, it will cost $5 for children to participate in the Kids Fun Run. There will be awards for runners, music and raffles at the event.

“It’s a really great cause,” Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) said. “Hobbs farm is a hidden jewel in the area.”

According to LaValle, the run has been made official by USA Track & Field. It will be timed and kept track of like any other official race.

“We would like to make this a yearly event,” Pellegrino said.

The inaugural run is not the only way to make a difference.

There are only approximately eight regular volunteers at the farm, including Dottie Meade, Elaine Gaveglia and Jason Castorano. Castorano finds himself fixing the farm equipment and handling the maintenance of heavy machinery, like the tractor. Meade helps out with a plot of land designated to educating young children and helping them learn and grow.

Meade said regular volunteers included the Green Teens from the Middle Country Public Library, volunteers from Long Island colleges like Suffolk County Community College, Stony Brook University and Adelphi University and the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

“We need volunteers, we need sponsors and we need the word out,” Pellegrino said.

A local family came out for breakfast to support a great cause. Photo by Jenn Intravaia Photography

By Ernestine Franco

More than 160 people started their day recently at the Butterfly Breakfast for a Cure fundraiser held at Applebee’s in Miller Place.

The $4,000 raised on Saturday will benefit DEBRA for America, an organization that provides assistance and education to families with children born with epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Young people who suffer from this disease are called “butterfly children” because their skin is so fragile it blisters or tears from friction or trauma.

After the event, Donna McCauley, who organized the fundraiser, expressed her gratitude to everyone who participated in the fundraiser, “When [my daughter] Kelly asked to take on a fundraiser for DEBRA of America, we were so proud of her for taking such an interest to give back to this wonderful organization that has supported our family for so many years. Living with EB is not easy and often people ask me how I manage to be so involved in so many things. All of my servers worked out of the goodness of theirs hearts and for service hours and did a great job. In case it wasn’t obvious to all yesterday by [the number of people who came to] Applebee’s … It is because of the love and support of my fantastic family and a group of friends like all of you. I am truly humbled by the turnout.”

If you would like to donate to help find a cure, please visit www.DEBRA.org.

Rob Marianetti is raising money to help fund his daughter Kayla’s care. Photo by Elana Glowatz

A smile, a swallow or a step mean a lot to Rob Marianetti.

It was not long ago that his daughter was unresponsive, following a bathtime incident, and doctors told him there was no hope she would get better. But Marianetti isn’t giving up on Kayla, and coming up on her third birthday she can make some sounds and move her arms and legs.

“I’ve been on a mission to get my daughter back,” he said.

When she was 17 months old, while Marianetti was at work — for Setauket-based Hurricane Tree Experts — Kayla was having a bath in her Port Jefferson Station home and was left unattended for eight minutes, the father said. She was found floating and unresponsive.

Marianetti rushed to the hospital to see Kayla while doctors were working on her. He said he was trying to get into the room with her and was banging on a door to the point where a police officer had to intervene. He learned a few weeks later, he said, that his daughter came back to life while he was banging.

“She was blue and she was done. She was done — and she came back.”

Kayla spent time at St. Charles Hospital and Stony Brook University Hospital, and Marianetti and his wife — who is no longer “in the picture,” he said — got the little girl started on different therapies right away, so she would not deteriorate.

Rob Marianetti is raising money to help fund his daughter Kayla’s care. Above, Kayla before her bathtime accident. Photo from Rob Marianetti
Rob Marianetti is raising money to help fund his daughter Kayla’s care. Above, Kayla before her bathtime accident. Photo from Rob Marianetti

The whole time Kayla was in the hospital, Marianetti never left her side, the father’s aunt, Susan Calvi, said: “Slept there every day.”

Out of all the nation’s experts Marianetti saw, he said, just one, neurologist Dr. Chris Sinclair at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, encouraged him to fight.

Sinclair said he’s seen a similar case of brain injury before, in which a child was perhaps even worse off than Kayla in the beginning but after a couple of years was walking and talking.

“So I’ve seen it before but I also know how flexible, in a sense, the brain of a young child is.”

Sinclair explained that there are connections between brain cells that allow the cells to communicate with one another, and in Kayla those have become damaged. But those connections can be regrown in a developing brain.

“When someone’s so young, [the future] is a lot brighter than it would be for someone who is an adult because the brain is still developing,” Sinclair said. “I think the sky’s the limit for her.”

Kayla has multiple therapy appointments each day, whether it’s hyperbaric therapy, which involves putting her in an oxygen-rich environment; physical therapy, to move her toward sitting up, standing and walking; vision therapy, as neurological issues have made her legally blind, even though her eyes themselves are fine; or speech therapy, which is used both to teach her to communicate and to eat on her own.

“By me doing all this stuff, it’s friggin’ working, man,” Marianetti said. Kayla has stood up, laughed, swallowed a small amount of pudding and taken a few steps. “Now remember, she couldn’t move a year ago. … I have hope.”

One big hurdle for Marianetti, however, is money. He’s gone through his savings, he said, and Kayla’s therapy appointments cost $8,000 a month. Then there’s other medical costs, as well as living expenses like food, diapers and electricity.

The treatments are expensive, the dad said, but “how can I not continue what I’m doing when she’s making progress?”

He set up a fundraising page, at www.gofundme.com/n19qgc, to ask for help. As of Wednesday morning, the fund had reached $18,000.

His goal is to have Kayla at least be able to walk, talk, eat and see on her own.

“I’m not leaving her like this,” Marianetti said. “I’m going until either she gets better or I die.”

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