North Shore gala will honor charitable champs

North Shore gala will honor charitable champs

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Event benefits children with life-threatening illnesses

John and Janet Kornreich will be honored at the Friends of Karen’s annual gala Friday. Photo from Friends of Karen

Friends of Karen of Port Jefferson will present its third annual Long Island Gala, which will take place on Friday, Dec. 4, at Stonebridge Country Club in Smithtown.

The event will honor Rich Panico, president of Symbio of Port Jefferson, John and Janet Kornreich with the Friends of Karen’s Humanitarian Award and Debbie Peck with the Friends of Karen’s Shelia Petersen Award.

Panico has been a champion for the charity for several years, the group said, and the Kornreiches were selected for their award because of their work as the founders of the John and Janet Kornreich Charitable Foundation. Peck has been a longtime Friends of Karen advisory board member and speaker for the organization and has shared her family’s personal story with schools, corporate employees and others so they can learn about the important work of Friends of Karen.

The group provides vital, practical and comprehensive support, at no cost, to families in the tri-state region who are caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. Since 1978, Friends of Karen has helped the children and their families with personal advocacy provided by a team of dedicated professionals — which includes social workers, expressive arts therapists and child life specialists — who work to ensure they have the financial, emotional and practical support they need to get through the turmoil and treatment process of a devastating diagnosis.

Friends of Karen began in 1978 when friends and neighbors came to the aid of a family with a 16-year-old daughter, Karen, who was terminally ill. A fund-raising campaign for medical and other costs enabled Karen to spend her precious last days at home surrounded by loving family and friends. More than 37 years later, Friends of Karen has helped nearly 14,000 children in the tri-state region, from birth to age 21, who have been diagnosed with cancer or another life-threatening illness.

For sponsorship and ticket information or to learn more about Friends of Karen, visit or call Patricia Conway at 631-473-1768, ext. 303.