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Islanders Team with Red Cross to Walk for Disaster Relief

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 4th Annual Red Cross Walk for Disaster Relief, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Saturday, April 2. Thanks to the New York Islanders, those who participate will receive admission to see the Isles take on the Carolina Hurricanes that night.

“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. We are extremely grateful to the Islanders for helping bring this walk to a new level.”

According to Tim Beach, vice president of Game Operations and Events, NY Islanders Hockey Club, the organization jumped at the chance to help.

“We pride ourselves on saying that ‘We are all Islanders’ and seeing what the Red Cross does every day on Long Island is inspiring,” said Beach. “The Red Cross not only provides disaster relief to our entire fan base across Long Island but many of their preparedness initiatives such as lifeguard training and learn-to-swim programs for children share the same beliefs of the Islanders Children’s Foundation.”

On average, nearly 800 Long Islanders are affected each year by local emergencies – mainly house fires. Additionally, hundreds of deployed military members rely on the Red Cross to provide emergency communications and assistance during life-altering events like the birth of a child or death of a family member. The local Red Cross chapters in Nassau and Suffolk counties are also vital to the entire American Red Cross network.

“When disaster strikes on Long Island, we are the first line of assistance,” said Cassano. “If something becomes too big for us, we know we can count on nearly 700 other chapters across the country. Likewise, when others need help, we are there for them and help with volunteers and financial assistance. The Red Cross is here for all – down the street, across the nation and around the world.”

Participants are asked to arrive at the Coliseum through the VIP/Executive Parking Lot entrance on Earle Ovington Boulevard. Walkers will assemble outside of the Islanders’ Executive Offices. The route is paved and consists of walking four laps around the perimeter of the Coliseum, approximately 1.5 miles. It is open to all ages, as well as wheelchairs and strollers. In the event of rain, it will be moved inside.

Registration is $30 in advance; $35 day of. Walkers will receive refreshments and an event T-shirt. Check-in begins at 3 p.m. and walkers will step off at 4 p.m. In-between, there will be music, bouncers and games thanks to the Islanders ICE Tour and COX Radio Long Island.

“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.

Thanks to the Islanders, prizes for this year include a pair of season tickets for the top fundraiser (must raise over $1,500) and the chance to high-five players outside of the locker room. To encourage philanthropy and teamwork within area schools, a trophy and bragging rights will be presented to the school that raises the most funds. A player will visit any school raising more than $5,000. For three years in a row, top honors have gone to W.T. Clarke High School in Westbury.

The Nassau Red Cross has enlisted the support of several sponsors to make the event fun for all – including the New York Islanders, Coca Cola, WBAB 102.3 FM, Panera Bread, Applebee’s and California Pizza Kitchen. Sponsorship opportunities still exist and registration materials for the walk are available online.

To learn more about this year’s Red Cross Walk, visit www.nassauredcross.org or contact Frank Cassano at 747-3500, ext. 206.