Just weeks away from Islanders Training Camp, Bruno Gervais couldn't wait
that long to get back to his newly adopted home of Long Island. Always eager
to help out in the community, the Islanders third-year defenseman traveled
from his home in the Montreal area last weekend to cheer on the almost 200
swimmers - ranging in age from 8 to 78 - who took the plunge into Oyster Bay
Harbor, Saturday, for the 18th Annual Swim-A-Cross at Centre Island Beach.
"I couldn't resist coming back to Long Island a little early," said Bruno.
"It's such a wonderful cause, and I was happy to be a part of it."
Nearly $20,000 was raised towards the Nassau County Red Cross, and there is still money flowing in from the fundraiser.
"We raised a similar figure last year at this point," said Frank Cassano, chief executive officer of the Nassau Red Cross. "Yet we actually give the
swimmers a month to turn in their pledges. Last year we saw an additional $10,000 come in during the weeks after the event, and we are very confident that we can exceed the $30,000 we raised last year."
With a never-ending smile, Bruno greeted participants and spectators, who
came out in droves for the annual event. Along with posing for pictures and
signing autographs, Bruno demonstrated to some kids how to shoot a puck in
the Islanders Slapshot Booth. This is Bruno's second season actively
supporting the Red Cross organization. Last year he appeared in Red Cross
PSAs and his work with it continues to grow.
"The Red Cross is such an important organization," said Bruno. "It was such
a beautiful day and the event seemed to go very well. I look forward to
continuing my relationship with the Red Cross this season and beyond."
Raising the funds is critical for the non-profit agency. According to its
Emergency Services Department, the Nassau Red Cross responded to 79 local
disasters, at an expense of $92,000, during its 2007 Fiscal Year which ended
June 30. Not even two months into the 2008 Fiscal Year, the Red Cross has
provided $22,000 in assistance since July 1.
"People know and expect the Red Cross to be on the scene, helping people
during times of major disasters like hurricanes and floods," said Cassano.
"Most don't realize though that there is a Red Cross chapter right here in
Nassau County and that we respond to emergencies, on average, once every
Those emergencies are often single-family home fires, at which the Nassau Red Cross provides funds, at no cost, for food, clothing and temporary shelter to those affected.
In addition to raising funds, this year's event was geared toward family fun
according to Craig Katinas, development director for the Nassau Red Cross.
"We don't want the Swim-A-Cross to be just another fundraising event in a
world full of fundraising events," said Katinas. "We want to create an environment that encourages swimmers to bring their friends and family along to share in the day. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, each year is getting better and better."
Sponsors for this year included Allstate and the State Bank of Long Island
who enabled the Red Cross to provide each swimmer with an event T-shirt. To
help create a festive mood, BLI 106.1 played music throughout the event.
Stop-N-Shop, Subway of Oyster Bay, and the Coca Cola Company provided food
and bottled water. Towels were provided by Baltic Linens and J.C. Penney's.
To find out more about the Nassau County American Red Cross or to make a
donation to the organization, visit their website at www.nassauredcross.org.