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Sundaes holds fundraiser for former Warriors ball player

Friends who attended the fundraiser at Sundaes in Port Jeff Station signed a birthday card for Daniel Colasanto. Photo from Wayne Colasanto

By Desirée Keegan

It may have been raining, but the Comsewogue community was shining with its support for a local.

Sundaes, a self-serve frozen yogurt, ice cream and gelato shop in Port Jefferson Station, held a fundraiser for Daniel Colasanto, a Comsewogue High School graduate who was hit by a car on June 16 and suffered severe head trauma as a result of the accident.

On July 1, which was coincidentally Colasanto’s 19th birthday, between 5 and 8 p.m., the local business donated 20 percent of its sales to the family. The campaign generated $700 in donations, which not only included the funds from sales and a 50/50 raffle, but extra cash that patrons wanted to donate in his honor.

“They say once a Warrior always a Warrior, and it is so true.”

— Daniella Pajonas

“I almost started crying — that’s unreal,” said Sundaes manager Gina Prezitali, who lives in Sound Beach, when she found out how much money was raised. “A couple of the girls here are close with him. We’re a family here; we care about each other, and that was the largest turnout I’ve ever seen, and most money we’ve raised. It was unbelievable the way everyone came together. It gave me chills.”

Warriors young and old flocked to Sundaes to show how much they cared, and after purchasing ice cream, many of them told the cashiers to keep the change.

“It’s crazy — we had a woman come in here and she graduated from Comsewogue in 1976,” Sundaes employee Daniella Pajonas, who is a neighbor of, and graduated with Colasanto, said. “They say once a Warrior, always a Warrior, and it is so true.”

Within the first 15 minutes of the event, the line wrapped around the inside of the building, and never died down after that.

“There’s so many people here,” Pajonas said. “It feels so good. I graduated with all of these kids. I feel so lucky that I grew up here.”

By the first half hour, nearly 100 community members had walked through the doors, most of whom stayed and packed the tables and benches, shared stories, showed support with their #PrayforDan T-shirts, and signed a birthday card.

Daniella Pajonas works the register at Sundaes during the event. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Daniella Pajonas works the register at Sundaes during the event. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“He’s an amazing person,” Samantha Donlon said. She graduated from Comsewogue in June. “He’s funny, he’s sarcastic, he’s very athletic, a fun person to be around and always someone you can count on. Everyone, even people who didn’t know him, are reaching out a helping hand. I think it’s amazing, and I’m proud to be a part of the Comsewogue community.”

The fundraiser comes following a string of support from the area. Chick-fil-A has donated food to the hospital three days a week, where as much as 50 friends at a time pack the 11th floor Ronald McDonald Lounge in Stony Brook University Hospital’s trauma center to show how much they care. Other local eateries have also donated food, and Port Jeff Sports made the T-shirts that close friends and family wear in support of the former Warriors baseball and football standout, who is now on the baseball roster at The College of St. Rose. Besides local companies, family and friends, and even people who didn’t know Colasanto are lending a helping hand in whatever way they can.

“It’s so amazing to see how everyone can come together in this family’s time of need, and it’s amazing to see how many lives Dan touched, and how it’s affected everybody,” said Nicole Blase, Colasanto’s girlfriend of three years. “I love him with all my heart. He helped make me the person I am today; he’s my number one. He’s so genuine, caring, and most of all, funny. He brightens up the room, and he puts a smile on everyone’s face. He’s just an amazing person, and I would give anything for him. Just pray for Dan.”

North Shore shows support in family’s time of need

Supporters display custom-made #PrayforDan shirts donated by Port Jeff Sports. Photo from Facebook

Helen Keller once said, “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” And in former Comsewogue baseball player Daniel Colasanto’s time of need, the community has come together to be the catalyst for recovery, in mind, body and spirit.

Colasanto suffered significant head trauma after being hit by a car on Route 25A around 1 a.m. on June 16. The 18-year-old received what his father Wayne called “life-saving surgery” at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson before he was transported to Stony Brook Hospital’s trauma center.

“The care that he has received, although a different type of care, has been parallel with the efforts and outpouring of the community,” Wayne Colasanto said of the staff at both hospitals. “You couldn’t ask for more. They’ve been that impressionable.”

Friends and family wait in the hospital lobby. Photo from Facebook
Friends and family wait in the hospital lobby. Photo from Facebook

Following the accident, the family’s pastor, Randy Paige, of Christ Church United Methodist in Port Jefferson Station, held a prayer service for Daniel, who his father said always wakes up with a smile because he finds the good in everything.

“It’s a small church,” Colasanto said. “And there were over 300 people there — there was zero room left. Some of the people included surgeons, people Danny played baseball with 10 years ago, teachers, guidance counselors, an endless amount of family members. There was a potpourri of people from every facet of our life represented at that prayer service. It was truly amazing.”

And that support hasn’t quieted down. It’s still more than noticeable — as the community helped the Colasanto family heal.

Wayne Colasanto said the family has received food, blankets and other things to keep the average 25 kids in the waiting room comfortable, almost entirely from anonymous donors.

“That, to me, speaks volumes,” he said. “I always felt that the gift was in the giving, not the recognition.”

The Port Jefferson Station family has also received donations from local and surrounding community establishments.

Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station has brought in freshly cooked food to the Ronald McDonald Lounge on the 11th floor of the hospital every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. GREEK-TO-GO in Stony Brook has brought a “humongo” Greek salad every day, and Gyro Palace in Rocky Point has also supplied food.

“Seeing the caring spirit in humanity, the general concern of people you don’t even know and how they have leaped into action in support, it’s humbling.”

— Wayne Colasanto

“The people who are donating to our family are feeding everyone up on the 11th floor,” Colasanto said. “The amount of food that’s been donated through friends, other restaurants — if we were having an eating contest at Coney Island on the Fourth of July we couldn’t get through all the food.”

And the donations keep coming.

Colasanto said that every time he goes downstairs to retrieve donations, he’s almost immediately sent back, if not interrupted on his way back upstairs, to collect more donations.

Assistance has also come in other forms.

Zachary Colasanto, one of Daniel’s older brothers, is extremely close with his brother.

“They’ve never had a fight in their life,” Wayne Colasanto said.

The father said that when Daniel was a junior and Zachary a senior, they approached him to ask if they could forego their own bedrooms and purchase a bunk bed to live as they did when they were younger.

“That’s how close they are. But as a parent with some wisdom, I said absolutely not,” Wayne Colasanto said, laughing.

Zachary Colasanto wanted to do something special to show support for his brother, who was a four-year varsity baseball player for the Warriors, and started on varsity as an eighth-grader at The Stony Brook School. Colasanto also played football at Comsewogue, and is currently on the roster as a pitcher at The College of Saint Rose.

Zachary had T-shirts made at Port Jeff Sporting Goods, which have the hashtag #PrayforDan and the No. 42, Daniel’s jersey number, on the back. When Daniel’s eldest brother Michael went to pick up the 50 shirts that Port Jeff Sports helped design and make, they would not accept payment.

“I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude at the fact that Port Jeff Sports was generous enough to donate those shirts,” Zachary Colasanto said. “It is incredible to see the love and support the entire community has been sharing with my family during this very difficult time.”

Wayne Colasanto said Father’s Day was especially difficult, but added it was also a positive reminder.

Former Comsewogue baseball player Daniel Colasanto suffered head trauma after being hit by a car on Route 25A. Photo from Facebook
Former Comsewogue baseball player Daniel Colasanto suffered head trauma after being hit by a car on Route 25A. Photo from Facebook

“It was probably the toughest Father’s Day, but it’s the one that I feel the most blessed about, because of the unity of my family,” he said. “I had to fight his friends to go home on Saturday night before Father’s Day. They literally refused. I told them that they would not outwait me. And before noon, they were all back here the following morning.”

Other area businesses and community members continue to show support. A GoFundMe page was created by a friend, to help raise money for the family: www.gofundme.com/dancolasantosfight. Also, Sundaes in Port Jefferson Station, on Route 112, will be holding a fundraiser on Friday, July 1. The day happens to be Daniel’s 19th birthday. The fundraiser will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., and 20 percent of all sales will be donated.

That constant, and around-the-clock support has opened Wayne Colasanto’s eyes.

“I don’t mean to sound cynical, but it’s almost disbelief,” he said. “I’ve admittedly adopted a cynical look at people in general because of their abrasiveness at times, and after seeing the caring spirit in humanity, the general concern of people you don’t even know and how they have leaped into action in support, it’s humbling. I just feel rejuvenated in my own mind about people in general. I’ll never forget what people have done. You can’t put into words.”

To stay updated on Daniel’s condition, you can visit the Facebook page the family has created, called Daniel Colasanto’s Fight: www.facebook.com/danielcolasantosfight/.