From Stay Awake-a-Thon: For the fourth year in a row, school children, their families and the local small businesses that serve Northern Westchester are teaming up to raise money to combat cancer locally.
Since 2008, the Hendrick Hudson Leos Club of Hendrick Hudson High School has raised over $200,000 dollars for cancer research and other organizations that provide hope, love and support for individuals and their families who are fighting cancer. This year, the focus is local. Proceeds from the fundraising effort will be split between the Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center at and Happiness is Camping, a camp for children with cancer. The fundraising effort will culminate on May 5th at the fourth annual Stay Awake-a-Thon at Hendrick Hudson High School.
The Stay Awake-a-Thon has grown to become one of Northern Westchester’s most visible and successful fundraisers. The public in Cortlandt, Ossining, Yorktown and surrounding communities are welcomed into the Hendrick Hudson High School for an evening of food, fun and entertainment. The entertainment includes live music, dance acts and a variety of other acts. Psychics, masseuses and other relaxation professionals will also be on hand. The buzz of activity is designed to keep participants and spectators of all ages engaged, alert and awake to remind all that cancer never sleeps.
Debbie Carter-Costello of Verplanck founded the Stay Awake-a-Thon in memory of her father, Edward F. Carter, who was battling and eventually lost his life to cancer. “Cancer effects more than the person who has it. It strikes friends and families just as hard and in even more painful ways. The Stay Awake-a-Thon and all the events leading up to it provides hope, support and strength to cancer survivors as well as those who lost loved ones.” Ms. Carter-Costello is the Advisor for the Hendrick Hudson Leos Club, which is the youth organization of the local Hen Hud Lions Club.
“One remarkable part of putting the event on each year” Ms. Carter-Costello said, “is watching children from elementary school to high school emerge as leaders on behalf of a cause greater than themselves. They put down video games and step aside from TV to work together—passionately—to reach a goal. I can think of no greater tribute to my father and others who perished from cancer than to see how transformative an event like this can be to the kids. It is inspiring.”
Ten year-old Joshua Anderson of Cortlandt Manor is one such child, though his involvement is a touch more personal. Joshua was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer when he was an infant. Though he has been cancer free for years, his other eye must frequently be checked because of the high possibility that cancer can strike again. “My friends know that I used to have cancer and that I may get it again. I think that makes them want to help even more, which makes me happy. I couldn’t believe how many people showed up to the Stay Awake-a-Thon last year. I hope a lot more come this year so we can help kids who are fighting cancer right now.” Joshua will be cutting the ribbon, as he has done each year, at the event’s opening ceremony.
For weeks, 28 teams have been engaging in numerous—and creative—activities in a friendly competition to raise money in hopes of playing a role in eventually eradicating the horrible disease. This year, the event organizers hope to raise $75,000.
All proceeds will go to the new Comprehensive Cancer Center at Hudson Valley Hospital and Happiness is Camping.
The Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center at Hudson Valley Hospital is the latest state of the art addition to the Hudson Valley Hospital Center, which is focused on delivering world class medical care in a community hospital setting. The Cancer Center houses a team of experienced, professionally renowned specialists. In addition, the new facility makes emphasizes a patient-centered approach, whether it is for chemotherapy treatments or post-operative rehabilitation and care.
Happiness is Camping is a camp for children with cancer. Kids can stay for a week or longer and receive their medical treatments while they enjoy all the activities-- swimming, softball, hiking and even going across a zip line--that make summer camp such a memorable childhood experience. Doctors from Memorial Sloan-Kettering are on staff to ensure that the children enjoy a safe, healthy and happy time at camp.
The Stay Awake-a-Thon is about more than just giving many kids an excuse to stay up late and have fun in the pursuit of helping others. It is also an event where those afflicted with cancer can draw strength from others in the community, especially cancer survivors.
Brian Kenny is one such survivor. Last year, Brian was diagnosed with germinoma brain cancer during his senior year at Hendrick Hudson High School. After undergoing a dangerous, but successful surgery he endured 24 days of proton-radiation at Mass General Hospital in Boston. He is now cancer-free and is about to complete his freshman year at Penn State University. “The Stay Awake-a-Thon brought that sense of community to me that I needed last year. I had just begun my journey. I remember someone speaking about being a caregiver, and how important that support is for someone that is battling cancer. That’s when I broke down; I remember looking into the stands at my mother and father, and just breaking down. Looking over at my friends and seeing all of them crying, I knew that I wasn’t alone anymore.”
Mr. Kenny will be the keynote speaker at the Stay Awake-a-Thon this year.
The opening ceremony for the Stay Awake-a-Thon is on Saturday, May 5th at 7pm and will be held at located at 2166 Albany Post Road in Montrose, New York.
The event also includes a ceremonial lighting of luminary bags, which are decorated in remembrance of those whose who lost their battle to cancer.
Lisa Anderson, Joshua’s mother is hoping for a big turnout: “I hope that people in Northern Westchester will help us celebrate with survivors and provide support and encouragement to those currently battling cancer.”
Joshua agreed, adding: “It isn’t every day that people see children with cancer. I’m doing my part to make it possible that they never have to.”
All proceeds will go to the new Cancer Center at Hudson Valley Hospital and Happiness is Camping- for children with cancer. For more information go to www.henhudleos.org and click on the SAA Thon tab. Or, call 914-736-7473. If you would like to make a donation, you can send a check made out to the Hendrick Hudson Leos and mail to PO Box 660, Verplanck, NY 10596