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Every year, hundreds of Long Islanders find themselves homeless because of disasters like house fires. And though the American Red Cross cannot replace all that has been lost, its volunteers are able to provide food, shelter and comfort to those affected.

To help support its local efforts, the American Red Cross in Nassau County will hold the Second Annual Cross Walk for Local Disaster Relief, at Eisenhower Park, Saturday, April 25.

"We take great pride in the fact that we are the nonprofit agency people turn to during times of disaster," said Frank Cassano, chief executive officer of the Nassau Red Cross. "But we need people to realize that we can't do it alone. By participating in events like this, Long Islanders can truly help their neighbors."

Over the past two years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of incidents requiring Red Cross assistance. In its 2007 fiscal year, the local chapter responded to 81 local emergencies--in 2008 that number rose to 137. With three months still remaining in its 2009 fiscal year (as of March 31), the Nassau Red Cross has logged nearly 90 incidents.

The Cross Walk begins at Field 6A. The route is paved and winds through the park for approximately 5 kilometers. It is open to all ages, as well as wheelchairs and strollers. Registration is $20; $10 for ages 12 and under. Walkers will receive refreshments and an event T-shirt. Check-in begins at 9 a.m., and walkers will step off at 11 a.m. In-between, there will be music, bouncers and games.

"Of course, this is a fundraiser, so we do hope that walkers will raise additional funds by encouraging their friends, families and coworkers to walk or make a donation," said Cassano.

Walkers will have until May 30 to turn in all pledges/donations. The top individual fundraisers will be eligible for prizes. To encourage philanthropy and teamwork within area schools, a trophy and bragging rights will be presented to the school that raises the most funds.

The Nassau Red Cross has enlisted the support of several sponsors to make the event fun for all--including the United Way of Long Island, the New York Islanders, Coca Cola and WBLI 106.1 FM. Sponsorship opportunities still exist and registration for the walk is available online.

To learn more about this year's Cross Walk, visit www.nassauredcross.org or contact Melissa Ingberg, special events coordinator, at 747-3500, ext. 213.


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