They walked for hope and each step brought them that much closer to a cure.
On Saturday, June 5, the Howard Beach community came out – 1,500 strong – to help end Juvenile Diabetes at the Second Annual South Queens Juvenile Diabetes Walk-A-Thon to Cure Diabetes.
Organized by the International Society of Saints Cosma and Damiano, the walk, which began in the schoolyard of the Ave Maria Catholic Academy, raised over $140,000 – all of which goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
It drew celebrities such as Goomba Johnny from radio station KTU; Joe Causi from 101.1 WCBS FM; Tony Sirico, a.k.a. “Paulie Walnuts” from “The Sopranos”; Ike Davis, number 29 from the New York Mets; and former “American Idol” contestant Pia Toscano, Howard Beach’s own, who sang the National Anthem.
Community groups and political and civic leaders like Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer, City Councilmember Eric Ulrich, Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio and Betty Braton, Chair of Community Board 10, also laced up their sneakers to walk.
“This has an incredible impact for Juvenile Diabetes,” said Goomba Johnny. “It’s raising thousands of dollars for research.”
Before the walk, paper sneaker sales at Ragtime raised $3,000, and local schools, including P.S. 207, St. Rose of Lima, St. Elizabeth, Divine Mercy Catholic Academy, St. Helen’s, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, P.S. 114, P.S. 202, Scholars’ Academy, P.S. 137, P.S. 210, P.S. 223 and P.S. 146, all helped raise money.
Ave Maria also raised $8,000.
“When Mr. and Mrs. De Candia [Joe and Doreen] put their minds to something, the sky’s the limit,” said Principal Maria Cuomo.
But the real stars of the day were the four children – the faces of hope – who led the walk: Jacob Levine, Vincent Gurino, Michael Mure and Joseph Russo.
“These children lead us on the path to work harder and raise money to find a cure,” said Joe De Candia, President of the Society and Jacob’s dad. “It was a successful walk – the response was great – and we’re proud to walk toward a cure.”
“Juvenile Diabetes affects millions of children,” said Joe Mure, Treasurer of the New York Chapter of the JDRF.
According to the JDRF, as of January of this year, as many as three million Americans may have Type 1 Diabetes. In the U.S., a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds; more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed each year.
Warren Ferchaw of Howard Beach was walking for his son, Vincent, 6. Just last May, the boy began waking up thirsty in the middle of the night. Ever attentive, Warren and his wife Stephanie took their son for medical attention, and he was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. He is now insulin dependent and gets shots twice a day.
“This is a day of hope that they find a cure,” said an emotional Stephanie.
De Candia pledged his continued support of the cause. “We’ll be out here every year until a cure is found.”