By Alex Christodoulides
Lomangino, who volunteers several days a week at St. Mary's Hospital for Children, said the fact that the handicapped children do not get the full use of the playground tugs at her heart, so in January she started raising funds for a $20,000 special swing one cookie at a time.”As a volunteer, when the weather is pleasant, we are able to take the children outside to enjoy the playground,” Lomangino said. “However, children in wheelchairs are not afforded the opportunity to use any of the playground equipment.”So she set out to find a way to bring the playground experience to all the children she has met as a volunteer at St. Mary's.”I am on a personal mission to purchase a Liberty Swing, which is specifically designed for wheelchairs and manufactured in Australia,” she said. “I am determined to give these children a chance to be out of doors enjoying the simple childhood pleasure of sailing through the air on a swing.”Undeterred by the cost, Lomangino began selling candy and cookies at Robert's Prime Meats in Bayside at the beginning of the year, she said. Friends and family also donated to her cause, with one sister making an Easter basket filled with games and candy, currently on display at Patrick's of Bayside Religious Goods, which will be raffled off. Chocolates Unlimited donated a 10-pound chocolate Easter bunny which will be raffled off from its current home at Robert's Prime Meats. And come spring, Lomangino hopes to arrange car washes with some of the local high schools.Lomangino said she is also planning a bake and candy sale for March 22 at two locations in Bayside. Look for Lomangino – or at least her sweets – in front of Robert's Prime Meats, 205-09 35th Ave., and at the Waldbaum's at the corner of 35th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. March 22.”I'm not sure how long this fund-raising project will go on, but rest assured that I won't stop until I have that Liberty Swing in the playground at St. Mary's for my kids,” Lomangino said.She and her team, the “Swingers,” are planning to participate in the annual St. Mary's Walk for Kids May 18 at Belmont Park in Elmont, L.I., she said. Lomangino said she welcomed sponsors as well as people interested in walking with her group, and all donations to the team will go toward her wheelchair swing project.”I can just see the smiles on their faces and I know it could provide a life-changing experience for those who use it,” she said.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.