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From the Desk of Assemblyman Charles Lavine: June 19, 2009

Fighting Cancer in the Ring

I have always been ready to fight the good fight for a worthy cause, and on Sunday, May 31 I had the opportunity to literally do just that as a participant in Alexandra Goidel’s Bat Mitzvah project. A North Shore Middle School student, Alexandra studies mixed martial arts under the tutelage of Derek Panza at Panza Mixed Martial Arts in Glen Cove. When it came time for Alexandra to choose a “mitzvah,” or “good deed,” component of her celebration, she and her mother Wendy brought to Derek the idea of combining Alexandra’s passion for MMA with her desire to raise money for charities close to her heart. Derek was thrilled with the idea and suggested a competition in which he would spar 100 straight rounds with any and all takers.

The Mixed Martial Arts Marathon was a very successful event for the Goidels and Mr. Panza, as well as for the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation and 1 in 9: The Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition, beneficiaries of the proceeds. Alexandra’s event raised in excess of $13,000 through corporate and private donations, including the people who paid to go a round, or sponsored a friend to go a round, with champion Derek Panza.

While I was still standing at the end of my round, I must admit it was much more impressive that Derek was standing at the end of his 100 rounds.

Derek Panza said, “The most rewarding thing I have ever done in my martial arts career is use my art to give back to society. I am so proud that so many of the students here at Panza MMA came together with such great enthusiasm and raised money to support the Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition as well as the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation. We are already gearing up for next year’s event. This was absolutely the best day for Panza MMA.”

Wendy Goidel said, “The marathon was highly successful and received an outpouring of support from the community and Panza students of all ages. Charitable events such as the marathon are an excellent way to bring the business, religious and political communities together for a common cause. It is our intent to replicate and build on the success of this event on an annual basis.”

The event was an exhilarating time for a wonderful cause and I congratulate Alexandra Goidel for her generosity of spirit and Derek Panza for his generosity of body. Additionally, I applaud the creativity exhibited in formulating the event and perseverance demonstrated in seeing it through.