Victoria’s Secrets: Teeing off with the stars

Vanessa Rogan, Lynne Koufakis, Rick Ritacco, Tariq Khan, John Murn, Justin Resnick, Geraldo, Peter Resnick and Mike Billia

There they were! Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity kicking off the 32nd annual Geraldo Rivera Golf Outing for Life’s WORC, a group I founded with friends in 1971.

It’s now a $60 million agency that provides desperately needed quality care homes and day programs for people with disabilities and in the autism spectrum, as well as guidance for their families.

I call Life’s WORC the “Tiffany” of agencies! But without fundraising dollars, many of these services would be challenged.

Geraldo has helped us raise almost $20 million these past few decades. Our signature event is the golf tournament that bears his name.

He has brought along his friends to support the cause, as he did last week, having Sean Hannity, a Long Island resident, cheer on our golfers and pledge support.

Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity

The day of the golf outing brought grey skies and threatening rain clouds, but before the “shotgun” start, the golfers lined up with smiles as big as the moon as they were officially welcomed by celebrities Geraldo and Sean Hannity. They told the golfers of their appreciation for their support — a cause that Geraldo has championed for 48 years!

I met Geraldo when Life’s WORC members were marching and picketing, protesting the state cutbacks in funding the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island. My daughter Lara was a resident in the Infant Rehabilitation Center created just a few years before. Lara had turned blue in the hospital nursery and suffered irreparable brain damage.

Wonderful women who lived near me in Bayside urged me to take action, and they helped me form Life’s WORC to help the other people who were Lara’s friends.

We sent bus loads of volunteers to Willowbrook each weekend and ran fundraisers to buy “extras” for the people living there. When funding cuts came, they all helped me by marching and picketing to demand the restoration of the funds that had slashed staff and threatened the lives of many of the helpless residents.

Geraldo, then a cub reporter with WABC-TV, knew a doctor working at Willowbrook who literally snuck him, in the dark of night, into the buildings after that the administration had blocked his visit. What he saw shocked him and his sensitive powerful coverage shocked our city.

Geraldo and I had met during his multiple visits and news reports and he often called on me and my late husband Murray for comment on our struggle.

His shocking, revealing coverage, along with reporting by Jane Curtin from the Staten Island Advance newspaper, made our story known to the whole city. It propelled the Willowbrook Parents Association to join Murray and I in filing a federal class action lawsuit. Winning the case changed forever how people with special needs get services.

Flashback to this past week, and Geraldo’s continuing concern and care for Life’s WORC make him my hero! It’s my hope that Sean Hannity’s support of our organization will enable us to name a group home in his honor, thanks to his financial commitment. You don’t have to love his politics but a good heart is always worth recognizing!

The weather didn’t stop it from being a beautiful day, with more than 200 people joining forces to help raise desperately needed funds for our Family Center for Autism and Life’s WORC programs at the golf tournament and dinner.

Enough is enough!

When will it stop? After yet another deadly mass shooting, this time in Virginia Beach on May 31, it’s time that something be done to stop sick people from acquiring guns to kill innocent people.

I just don’t understand why our country can’t pass laws to stop assault weapons of war from being sold. The bullets being sold for those guns could be stopped.

Keep your Congressmen and U.S. Senators aware that you, too, are fed up! New York state may have “better” laws than other states, but we need to keep the pressure on for a national act similar to laws passed in New Zealand just one week after they experienced massacres earlier this year.

May the families in Virginia Beach who suffered shocking loss find the courage to carry on!

Dance season

It’s dance recital season and my granddaughters performed gloriously!

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