CHARLIE’S CHAMPIONS OF GARDEN CITY LOOKS BACK WITH SATISFACTION & GRATITUDE – AND FORWARD WITH HOPE & OPTIMISM
Mineola, NY – A New Year brings reflection on the past, fills the mind with new dreams, and the heart with new expectations. Looking back on 2008, Garden City residents Tara and John Schmitt discussed the importance of Charlie’s Champions, a Foundation which they created in honor of their son, Charlie, who is being treated for leukemia at Winthrop-University Hospital’s Cancer Center for Kids (CCFK). The couple gratefully acknowledged the warm embrace of family and friends who rallied around them during an extraordinarily difficult time in their lives.
(L-R) Mark Weinblatt, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Oncology/Hematology at Winthrop and Director of the Cancer Center for Kids; John Schmitt; son Charlie; Tara Schmitt; Linda Sweeney, Practice Manager for the Cancer Center for Kids; Dr. Naomi Moskowitz of the CCFK.
“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live,” said Tara, describing how she and her husband, John, shared the challenges of Charlie’s illness with neighbors and friends, and opened the door to an exceptionally generous community. With a little help from their friends, the Foundation’s 2008 fundraising activities raised more than $135,000 to benefit the CCFK’s programs and its beautiful new facility at 120 Mineola Boulevard in Mineola.
According to Tara, “2008 was a banner year for Charlie’s Champions.” The year began with a highly competitive mixed doubles paddle tennis tournament in March – the now legendary Rage in the Cage event. In the spring, family friend Merry Straus directed a Night of Music & Cheer, which symbolized the heart and soul of the CCFK, as the voices of children blended with Center music therapist Glenn Schifano to articulate their compelling story in music and song. “It was a beautiful, rewarding night. Everyone in attendance saw the results of their generosity first-hand,” said Tara.
Adding to this king’s ransom in philanthropic support for Charlie’s Champions were the following fabulous events: a Kids’ Day at the Southward Ho Country Club, orchestrated by club tennis director Alan Van Nostrand and 15-year old club member, Andrew Cohen; a Golf Outing organized by Mike Egan, President of the LI Chapter of the Credit Union Association of New York; an Ironman endurance marathon arranged by Garden City resident and New York City Police Department Inspector Charlie Dunne; and a ‘half-marathon’ led by Jacquie Schmitt, Charlie’s aunt.
Additional funds came from Champion angels: Trustmark Insurance Company, the Council of Carpenters Relief & Charity, Rafferty Capital, Comcast Foundation, Intercontinental, LANE Office, Dillmeier Enterprises, Bloomberg, the Haeffner Family, World Courier, Citi Global Impact Funding Trust, the Cassaro Family, Steel Equities, the Sweeney Family, National Land Tenure, Tim Meehan, Michael Farley, Esq., PFP Family Security Plan and the McGlynn Family.
For the Schmitts, this represented nothing short of a miracle. “The support people kept giving provided us with the strength to keep on going. We are very grateful,” Tara said.
Helping to meet the complex issues of pediatric cancer energizes Charlie’s Champions and meshes with the CCFK’s own spirit and dedication to fostering hope and healing among young cancer patients and their families. The Cancer Center for Kids, part of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Winthrop-University Hospital, is Nassau County’s largest outpatient facility for treating children with cancer and blood disorders.
In 2009, Charlie’s Champions will be dreaming new dreams and filling the heart of its community with new hope. The Foundation’s annual “Rage in the Cage” paddle tennis tournament is set to take place on March 21, 2009 at the Cherry Valley Country Club in Garden City. This highly anticipated local event brings together players, sponsors, and friends to raise awareness and fight pediatric cancer.
If you would like to share in the Foundation’s vision, visit its website at www.charlieschampions.com. To learn more about Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids, visit www.winthrop.org/cck.
# # #