The Town of Smithtown ‘Goes Gold’ for September with Tree Lighting Ceremony at Town Hall
On Thursday, September 2nd, State, County & Local Officials joined together with the Daniela Conte Foundation, the Thomas Scully Foundation, and local families to kick off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with the first annual ‘Go Gold’ Tree lighting ceremony at Town Hall. The tree featured gold ribbons with the names of local children who are actively fighting cancer, in remission, or have passed on. The lights and ribbons were donated to the Town courtesy of Katia Conte, founder of the Daniela Conte Foundation. Additionally, the Thomas Scully Foundation provided the Town with giant gold awareness ribbons, which can be viewed at the Smithtown Bull Monument and at the Parks Department through the month of September.
“September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. However, many of the families here with us tonight will tell you that cancer does not take 11 months off. While we kick off a year of awareness tonight, we are more importantly here as one community to let every family with a child diagnosed with cancer know one very important fact. You are not alone.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
Childhood cancer is the number one cause of death (by disease) in children. Despite alarming statistics, only 4% of research funds are allocated annually by the National Cancer Institute. The month of September is dedicated to fostering awareness and advocating for a cure for this vastly underfunded disease.
Anthony and Katia Conte founded the Daniela Conte Foundation in 2020, in memory of their daughter. The Foundation's mission is to raise awareness, fund research to develop less toxic, more targeted treatments for childhood cancers, and to financially assist pediatric patients and their families going through treatment. The Daniela Conte Foundation has sponsored the tree lighting at Smithtown Town Hall and provided over 40 gold ribbons with the names of local children in remission, undergoing treatment, or have passed due to childhood cancer.
“As of today, our doctors and hospitals are still using 30-year-old toxic treatments on our children that cause a lifetime of medical problems for survivors. There have been changes over the last decade, but not enough… our children should be our priority…. Our goal is to invest in research, find a cure for pediatric cancers, and to financially assist families with children with cancer. So, when you think about why it’s so important to Go Gold in September, think about the statistics and how underfunded childhood cancer really is. And be truly thankful if you haven’t had to endure the worst thing a parent can possibly go through. We really do need everyone’s help to turn September Gold everywhere.” - Katia Conte, Daniela Conte Foundation
Over the past three years, the Town of Smithtown has raised awareness for Childhood Cancers in the month of September through various activities and events. This year, the Daniela Conte Foundation has sponsored the first annual tree lighting at Town Hall. This is in addition to adorning the fencing at Town Hall in gold ribbons and placing large awareness ribbons in front of the Parks Department and at the bull monument, provided courtesy of the Thomas Scully Foundation.
“Our son Thomas passed away on July 7, 2016 because of an aggressive brain tumor. He passed away when he was twelve years old… As part of our grieving, we knew we needed to do something to keep our son’s memory alive, and carry on the happiness he carried with him… We wanted to support families like ours who would travel the world in an effort to save their child. Our mission is to bring a little bit of happiness to children with cancer today, while supporting a cure for tomorrow.” - Debbie Scully
In addition to providing the Town of Smithtown with large gold awareness ribbons which are displayed at the Bull Monument and at the Parks Department, the Thomas Scully Foundation has worked with the town over the past two years on public service announcements, and documentaries. Founded in 2017 to honor the life and memory of Thomas Scully, the mission of the Foundation is to bring "A Little Bit of Happiness" to children with cancer today, while supporting a cure for tomorrow. The Thomas Scully Foundation provides "A Little Bit of Happiness" care packages to children in local hospitals. Additionally, the Thomas Scully Foundation gives "A Little Bit of Hope'' Grants to NY based families seeking innovative treatment for their child.
Local mom and childhood cancer awareness advocate Amy Beach has orchestrated a large ‘Lace Up for Kids’ partnership with the Smithtown Central School District in honor of her son and childhood cancer survivor Dylan. The ‘Lace Up for Kids’ campaign in Smithtown is made possible thanks to Amy Beach and her partnership with Smithtown School District, under the leadership of Smithtown Superintendent Dr. Mark Secaur. Through the month of September, students, teachers, and faculty throughout the district will showcase their support through pictures and posts on social media. Individuals wishing to get involved in this and other Solving Kids Cancer campaigns can visit solvingkidscancer.org online.
“I became aware of the impact of childhood cancer in the emergency room of Cohen's Medical Center. My then two year old son Dylan was rushed to emergency surgery to remove a rare malignant brain tumor… he’s now 15. It’s been 4657 days and my commitment to awareness could not be greater… Solving Kids' Cancer finds, funds and advocates for breakthrough treatment options to cure children with the most fatal pediatric cancers… To increase awareness, Solving Kids' Cancer simply asks participants to swap out their ordinary shoe laces for gold laces, and share their participation on social media. This September we’re proud to have the Smithtown slammers youth-13 girls soccer teams participating in their fifth season of Lace Up for Kids. Nesaquake Middle School has been a wonderful partner since 2018. And we’re excited to announce tonight that all of the Smithtown Central School District schools will be participating in the year 2021.” - Amy Beach, Smithtown Resident, Parent & Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate
Ways to Get Involved:
- Write to your State and Federal leaders and request improved financial support to fund research, new treatments and a cure.
- Give Blood: Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can put patients at risk for low red blood cell and platelet counts, as it can damage bone marrow, which lowers the production of red blood cells and platelets. Cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma also attack bone marrow. Blood and platelet transfusions allow patients to receive the critical treatments they require to fight and survive cancer. Give blood or platelets to support kids, teens and young adults battling cancer, as well as others in need of transfusions.
- The Town of Smithtown is hosting a blood drive on September 22nd at Landing Country Club from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM. To register, visit: https://donate.nybc.org/donor/schedules/zip?utm_source=nybc&utm_medium=donateredirect&utm_campaign=social
- Donate: Give to a local foundation such as the Daniela Conte Foundation, the Thomas Scully Foundation, Solving Kids Cancer and the Smithtown Children's Foundation.
- Participate: Get involved with awareness campaigns such as Lace Up for Kids, wear gold to work or school, or place a yard sign in front of your home. All of these simple tasks create discussions you can have with neighbors, friends and family. The more people talking about childhood cancer statistics, research and other awareness topics, the better the chances are to improve funding, research, and help to find a cure.
Locally Based Childhood Cancer Foundations:
About the Daniela Conte Foundation:
Anthony and Katia Conte founded the Daniela Conte Foundation in 2020 to raise awareness, fund research to develop less toxic, more targeted treatments for childhood cancers with a specific focus on Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS), and financially assist pediatric patients and their families going through treatment. Daniela passed away from Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma on March 2, 2020. It is her legacy that we proudly carry on today. Learn More at danielacontefoundation.org
About the Thomas Scully Foundation:
Founded in 2017, to honor the life of Thomas Scully, the mission of the Foundation is to bring "A Little Bit of Happiness" to children with cancer today, while supporting a cure for tomorrow. The Thomas Scully Foundation is fulfilling this mission with "A Little Bit of Happiness" care packages that bring comfort and joy to the children stuck in local New York hospitals. Additionally, the Thomas Scully Foundation supports a cure for tomorrow by providing "A Little Bit of Hope'' Grants to families seeking innovative treatment for their child. These grants assist families who are New York residents for the time being, although the foundation hopes to expand this in the future. Learn More at: thomasscullyfoundation.org
About Solving Kids Cancer (Lace Up for Kids):
Solving Kids' Cancer finds, funds and advocates for breakthrough treatment options to cure children with the most fatal pediatric cancers. The foundation's focus is on aggressive childhood cancers with low survival rates because Every Kid Deserves to Grow Up®. Solving Kids' Cancer helps accelerate new, next-generation treatments, including immunotherapy, cancer vaccines, and new drugs by applying an understanding of the entire childhood cancer research landscape to wisely invest in innovative projects. Learn More: solvingkidscancer.org
About the Smithtown Children’s Foundation:
The Smithtown Children’s Foundation, a not for profit, 501c3, provides financial and emotional support to families residing within the Smithtown School District. They originally formed in 2008 to help a local kindergartner diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, but as they pooled resources, they realized they were building something to help an entire community. The Smithtown Children's Foundation assists families in crisis, from paying medical and overdue household bills, to buying medical equipment not covered by insurance. The Foundation manages college scholarships for graduating seniors, many in memory of loved ones lost. The Foundation has become a resource for Smithtown’s most in need, working closely with social workers, providing backpacks/school supplies, as well as holiday gift cards and gifts. Learn More: smithtownchildrensfoundation.com