Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00
It was good eats, dancing and auctions galore last week at Jericho Terrace in Mineola. In conjunction with TeamFox, the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Disease Research Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Long Island, “Night on the Town in Mineola,” showcased sample cuisines from New York City and Long Island restaurants.
Night on the Town began about six years ago, when St. Aidan’s was looking to raise money. Step in Mineola resident Harry Zapiti. Zapiti brought the idea to St. Aidan’s board. All he wanted was the support. “We wanted them to just come out to the event and all the proceeds were donated to the school,” Zapiti said.
According to Zapiti, then-Mineola mayor Jack Martins approached him to include Corpus Christi Church in “Night on the Town.” Both schools conjoined and created a charity event.
“We held the event and it was a pretty successful one,” Zapiti said. The committee for that event consisted of Zapiti, Martins, Vincent Cardinal and John Curry. In November 2010, Piccola Bussola owner Tony Lubrano approached Zapiti for help on a separate charity event to raise money for leukemia.
“We did a wine tasting and only expected between 50 and 75 people,” Zapiti said. “That night, over 200 people showed up and [we] made about $11,000.”
But why the Michael J. Fox Foundation, you ask? Art Shamsky, former Mets (1968-71) outfielder and first baseman, who is good friends with Zapiti, asked Harry to umpire the annual Celebrity Softball game in Central Park, where he met Michael Costa of TeamFox.
“Working with someone like Michael is amazing,” Costa said. “The objective here is to put his foundation out of business, which means a cure for Parkinson’s would and must occur.”
This led Harry to bring back Night on the Town after a one-year hiatus, including both the leukemia and Parkinson’s charities. All proceeds from “Night on the Town” went to both charities.
“We raise annually about $60 million,” TeamFox Deputy Director Shelia Kelly said. “Since inception in 2001, we’ve raised $235 million. Over 87 cents on the dollar goes to research. We have one focus; we fund a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Our goal is to close our doors.”
Costa said when he met Harry, he knew the event idea was a home-run. “We jumped right in,” Costa stated. “It sounded like a solid idea and judging by tonight, it is.”
“It’s a great event,” Shamsky said. “I’m good friends with Harry and this benefit could only have a positive outcome. I’m very much involved with both foundations here tonight and both of them do great things. Plus, these restaurants are great.”
Some of the restaurants that catered the event were Bakers of All Nations, Willy Parkers, Major’s Steakhouse, The Cupcake Lady, Uncle Baccala’s, Jonathan’s, Becco, Vinicco, Piccola Bussola, Piccolo’s, Heart of Portugal, Frantoni’s, Cardinale Bakery, City Cellar, Jericho Terrace, La Marmite, Memories, Paparazzi, Red Restaurant, The Golden Glow Cookie Factory, Marzullo’s Pasticceria and Cardinale Bakery.
Silent auctions were held for various sports/celebrity memorabilia, including but not limited to a New York Jets Darrelle Revis signed football, a New York Yankee David Cone signed baseball, Hugh Jackman signed boxing shoes, a team-signed New York Islanders jersey.
“The weather didn’t help, but the event still went off without a hitch,” Zapiti said of the event that still held 400 people. “We raised a lot of money and I take it as a stepping stone to an annual event. Hopefully it’s a prelude to more successful events in the future.”