Thursday, May 7, 2009

The "Power of Purple" Touches Howard Beach

By Patricia Adams

The First Annual Howard Beach Relay for Life officially got underway on Friday, when the town was “painted purple” in honor of those whose lives have been touched by cancer. The “Power of Purple” is a registered trademark at the American Cancer Society (ACS), and purple is the color that marks all ACS Relay for Life events; it is a symbol of hope. And for the community of Howard Beach, the color purple took on a whole new meaning on Friday.

Beginning the night before, event co-sponsors, Phyllis Inserillo and Melissa Fochetta stood in the rain with a crew of volunteers to hang purple bows from every tree along the Crossbay center median. The Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation did a planting of purple flowers and hung bows at the Welcome to Howard Beach triangle. They also had purple lights strung on the center median trees. Frank Russo saw to it that Russo’s on the Bay was bathed in purple light. Children from three local schools wore purple and held mini relays throughout the day. Purple bagels replaced the usual fare at Sapienza’s, purple flags flew over Ragtime and there were purple ribbons, magnets, balloons and cupcakes all made to raise money toward the community’s lofty $100,000 dollar Relay goal.

But on Friday night, as Paint the Town Purple events for the day wound down, a crowd of Relay supporters gathered in the parking lot of St. Helen’s to mark the close of the day with a candle relay. The ceremony marked the end of a day that was filled not only with the color purple, but with an eagerness to participate and a new understanding of the power of hope.

Cancer survivor and ACS Relay honoree Mario Faulisi and his family were among those gathered at the candle ceremony. “I hope the people of Howard Beach realize how much their support means. The spirit they are showing is in many ways even more important than the money that keeps coming in,” said Faulisi. “If anyone doubts just how important public support against cancer is, they should ask me. I’m living proof.”

John Link, manager of Special Events for the ACS was on hand for all of the day’s events. “When this community is asked to do something, they really do it in a big way,” said Link. Howard Beach has really shown their HOPE today!” And as the crowd who had gathered looked up at Link’s urging they saw that the color purple had invaded the sky, casting lavender shadows and proving beyond the shadow of doubt—where there is purple, there is hope.

At the end of the day, the three local schools, MS 210, PS 146 and St. Helen’s, had raised over $6,700 and the Relayers of Howard Beach moved closer to their goal with more than $55,000 having already been raised. Paint the Town Purple will continue through the 1st Annual Howard Beach Relay for Life on June 13.

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