Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Light Staten Island Gold!

As we approach the middle of October, we are fully immersed in pink. Why? For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, of course - everyone knows that. But, did you know that September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? I made it my mission to make Staten Island aware.

It all began when the Empire State Building was asked to light gold in honor of all the children bravely battling cancer and those we've lost. They said, "No." That's right. The Empire State Building stated that they "could not grant everyone's request light." It seemed that children were not as important as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the "iHeart Radio Music Festival," for which they lit up in various colors. Instead of taking "No" for an answer, NYC fought back and worked with other landmarks to shine a bright gold light on pediatric cancer. It was my privilege to start a "Staten Island Go Gold" campaign in addition to speaking at two of the gold-lighting ceremonies.

My first thought was, "If the Empire State Building won't go gold, Staten Island will." I decided to encourage people to light their own houses with gold lights - on their porches, in their windows, on their lawns, etc. After creating a Facebook event, the idea spread like wildfire. On September 1st, my social media pages were flooded with pictures of beautifully lit houses! Staten Island has such an incredibly passionate community, so I wasn't surprised at all!
A few days later, I attended the lighting of the Coney Island Parachute Jump. The Parachute Jump is an iconic structure in Brooklyn. Times Square had also participated earlier in the week, but I unfortunately was unable to attend. So, joined by my friend and Miss NY sister, Christina Moore (Miss Cosmopolitan 2014), I was happy to have made it to this event. We both had the opportunity to speak to the crowd alongside several politicians and pediatric cancer research advocates. To watch the enormous fixture light up gold was truly breathtaking.
To wrap up the month, I visited the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island for their "Light Staten Island Gold" ceremony. Once again, I spoke to the crowd about my connection to my platform, the need for more funding for research, and the importance of them coming out to show their support. I was also sure to thank Borough President James Oddo and owners of the Hilton, Lois & Richard Nicotra, who played a huge part in bringing awareness to Staten Island. We were joined by children who bravely battled pediatric cancer and watched as they waved their "magic wand" to turn the building gold.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month has now passed and the Empire State Building never "went gold." This, however, is not a failure on our part, but on theirs. They failed by not recognizing the severity of this issue and the attention it deserves. I would like to thank the NYC icons that did care enough about our children to make a statement this month: Times Square NYC, One World Trade Center, Coney Island Parachute Jump, & Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island. Thank you, as well, to the Staten Island community for joining me in lighting their own houses gold. The fight doesn't end with September. I will continue to take action against pediatric cancer and I hope that you will join me in my efforts.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Princess Bella's Big Top Carnival

As Miss Staten Island, I meet so many truly incredible people. Last June, I met Pina Harvey at the Gianna Nicole's Heart of Hope Gala. Pina, whose oldest daughter Isabella has leukemia, is an amazing woman with an equally amazing family. Isabella decided that she wanted to give back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help other kids who are sick. To that end, the Harvey family and friends created "Team Princess Bella's Big Top Carnival for Kids."  I was honored to be invited to support.
When we arrived at Carnival Kids Play Place, we were greeted by all of the Harvey children as soon as we stepped inside…even Michael Harvey, who is usually pretty shy, came to say hello. All of them are so adorable! My mom sold tickets as I greeted the guests, played with the kids and took pictures. Of course, I just had to buy some basket raffle tickets. I have an addiction, I think!
When it came time to call the raffles, I was assisted by Bella, Alyssa, and some of their very capable friends. As luck would have it, the first ticket Bella pulled was mine! I swear I had nothing to do with it! I won a Scentsy candle wax warmer, something I was going to order for myself anyway! My Mom won a basket, as well.
Once the baskets were called, we helped clean up and said our goodbyes, but not before we got our adorable "popcorn cupcake" favors. The carnival raised about $1,300 for LLS. I am humbled by this family and their conviction to help others, especially Bella who has gone through so much herself and still put others before herself. I look forward to having Bella and her family in my life for a very, very long time.