Local officials joined together with the Daniela Conte Foundation, Thomas Scully Foundation, Smithtown Children‘s Foundation, Smithtown Central School District, local parent advocate Amy Beach, families and friends to kick off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with the annual ‘Go Gold’ Tree lighting ceremony at Town Hall on Sept. 7.
The tree at Town Hall was adorned in gold bows, bearing the names of local children who are actively fighting cancer, in remission or have since passed away. The lights and ribbons were donated to the Town courtesy of Katia Conte, founder of the Daniela Conte foundation in 2021. Each year, new bows with the names of local kids are added. Additionally, giant gold awareness ribbons, donated courtesy of the Thomas Scully Foundation are on display at the Smithtown Bull Monument, at Town Hall, the Parks Department and at the Highway Department through the month of September. Local mom and advocate Amy Beach was on hand to distribute gold laces as a part of the “Lace up for Kids” partnership, in honor of her son Dylan, with the Smithtown Central School District.
“The month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. But as many of the families here with us tonight will tell you, cancer affects us all 24/7… year round. Tonight we kick off a year of awareness. However… We are also here as one community, one family, to let every parent, or caregiver, who has a child diagnosed with cancer know something…You are not alone. We are here to fight for you, cry with you, laugh with you, pray for you and share our love with you. Thanks to organizations like the Daniela Conte Foundation, the Thomas Scully Foundation, the Smithtown Children‘s Foundation and the work that Parent Advocates like Amy Beach do, there are local resources and an entire community of people who are ready to help. Whether it’s financial assistance, help dealing with insurance companies, hospital administrations, a hand getting dinner on the table or an extra hand around the house… You will not go through this alone. That is our promise to you,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim .
Each year, the Town of Smithtown raises awareness for Childhood Cancers in the month of September through various activities and events. These efforts are intended to help fund and raise awareness, identify breakthroughs and fill gaps in the treatment landscape, and direct research to the areas with the greatest need. This year the call for action in addition to advocacy and awareness rang clear from Amy Beach, who spoke on behalf of Katia Conte and Debbie Scully.
“Pediatric Cancer has to be funded by nationwide and local groups. We run, walk, shave our heads, play golf, host gala’s and have community involvement to raise research dollars. Leave it up to the parents… As of today, hospitals are still using 30 year old toxic treatments on children that cause a lifetime of medical problems for survivors. Kids deserve the very best in cures, treatments and protocols that science can offer and that means investing in research… When you think about why it’s so important to go gold in September, then think about the statistics and how underfunded childhood cancer really is. And be truly thankful if you haven’t had to endure the worst thing a parent can go through.,” said Katia Conte of the Daniela Conte Foundation.
“The mission of the Thomas Scully Foundation is to bring A Little Bit of Happiness to children with cancer today, while supporting a cure for tomorrow. The foundation delivers care packages to bring comfort and joy to children, while they’re in local NY hospitals. They also support a cure for tomorrow, by providing A Little Bit of Hope grants. These are given to families seeking innovative treatments for their child… The Thomas Scully Foundation would like to thank the Town of Smithtown, for helping to bring awareness to childhood cancer by going gold for the third year in a row. Not only are you helping to bring awareness but you’re also letting everyone know that you support those children and families who have been affected. We thank you for that,” added Debbie Scully of the Thomas Scully Foundation.
“Less than 4% of the federal budget for cancer research in the United States of America is dedicated to childhood cancer. Solving Kids Cancer is an organization that finds, funds and advocates for breakthrough treatment options to cure children with the most fatal pediatric cancers. They help accelerate new, next generation treatments, including immunotherapy, cancer vaccines and new drugs, by applying an understanding of the entire childhood cancer landscape to wisely invest in innovative projects… This September, we are proud to have the Smithtown Slammers U14 flash girls soccer team participating in their sixth season of Lace Up for Kids, Nesaquake Middle School has been a wonderful partner since 2018 and we are excited to announce that all of Smithtown Central School District schools will be participating again in 2022… Friday, September 16th will be a district-wide Go Gold Day. And we invite all of you as well to care, wear and share your gold throughout this month of September. Last year, we stood in front of this tree, as so many of you pledged support for these Children and their families battling the unimaginable. It has been 370 days… Support is more than a photo opp. Tonight lets shift from awareness to action. Because every kid deserves a chance to grow up. We look forward to many years of partnership, awareness and advocacy until one day, there is a cure. Be Bold. Go Gold,” said Amy Beach, a childhood cancer research advocate and Smithtown parent.
“This ceremony here tonight, the support and awareness is invaluable to the children we’re trying to support, those to come and to those who we have lost. The Smithtown Children Foundation was founded in 2008. What many don’t know is that the motivation and inspiration in creating the foundation, was a five year old little girl who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and who sadly we lost a year later. While we support the community through a number of initiatives, the plight of childhood cancer awareness, of supporting families who are battling this, is one that is very close to our hearts at the foundation. We are here to provide financial, and emotional support, to provide resources, help for some of the ins and outs for families who are going through this and may be a little overwhelmed. We support your foundations wholeheartedly, we support awareness and we support the individual families to help you in any way we can,” said Krissy Lonetto, of the Smithtown Children‘s Foundation.
“We all know cancer is an insidious disease. But when it impacts our children, it is especially devastating. Amy’s message tonight really hits home… of turning advocacy into action. That is certainly what we are hoping to do! In the next few days and throughout the month, you will see gold ribbons at each of our schools, and increase advocacy with a path towards action. Also, the Lace Up for Kids initiative in schools and at our East/West football game, will pay particular attention to this cause on Friday night. I applaud all the foundations involved here, and the Town for your continued advocacy.,” sadid Superintendent Dr. Mark Secaur, Smithtown Central School District.