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Butterfly Dreams golf tournament stays strong in Bayside

Photo courtesy Leslie Montali
By Phil Corso

What started as a simple golf tournament and fund-raiser to benefit a Bay Terrace child with cerebral palsy has blossomed into an annual event that benefits kids in need throughout the community.

Former Bay Terrace native Leslie Montali helped organize Butterfly Dreams, which reaches out to children with special needs and their families, and announced the group’s third event for this Saturday at the Clearview Golf Course, at 202-12 Willets Point Blvd.

The annual golf outing was launched in 2011 to benefit Montali’s now 10-year-old daughter Ashtyn, who sustained a traumatic birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and inspired her family to help other children in need.

The first fund-raiser collected more than $23,000 for the family.

This time around, Montali said all proceeds will go toward helping 3-year-old Berkely Sayne, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as Rett Syndrome. As she was developing, Sayne was hitting all her regular milestones like walking and talking, but the disorder has caused her to regress in her development.

With help from the fund-raiser, Montali said she hopes Butterfly Dreams can help purchase a DynaVox EyeMax sophisticated communication device for the 3-year-old girl to help her as she continues to develop.

“It’s very hard to have a child that cannot communicate,” Montali said. “When we were approached to help Berkely, I thought it was so important to help her to communicate with her parents as she gets older.”

Montali said she hopes to see success similar to that of last year, when the group raised even more than its first year to help purchase a therapy dog for 4-year-old Baysider Grant Cloutier as well as toilet-training equipment for Abi’s Place, a nonprofit school for children with special needs in southern Florida, which Ashtyn attends.

This year’s event will include the traditional golf outing and cocktail party, but will also feature a special casino night, Montali said.

Raffle prizes collected for this year include a seven-day trip to Antigua and tickets to various events like Jimmy Fallon hosting “The Tonight Show,” New York Yankees games and more.

Formerly known as Leslie Kohut, Montali moved to Bay Terrace from Howard Beach in 1986 and went to school at IS 25, where she met husband Adam Montali. The couple moved to the Boca Raton, Fla. area soon after their 2001 wedding.

Nonetheless, Montali said her Bay Terrace roots have remained at her core and her neighbors who help keep Butterfly Dreams alive have kept her coming back year after year.

“Our goals are always very high because we would like to help,” she said. “I am always looking forward to getting back to New York. It has just been an amazing experience.”

Tickets and more information on Butterfly Dreams can be found at ashysbutterflydreams.com.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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