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The Official Site of the New York Islanders

Local charities speak up on new arena

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Every year, the New York Islanders affect thousands of lives through charitable endeavors, the majority of which affect children and adults living in their own backyard, in Nassau County and on Long Island.


Sam Kille, the Senior Director, Marketing & Public Relations at American Red Cross, spoke at Thursday's press conference on the importance of keeping the Islanders on Long Island.
Early on Thursday afternoon, more than a dozen of those local and national charities joined Islanders Community Relations Manager Ann Rina inside the Nassau Coliseum Box Office to discuss how they are affected by the Islanders presence on Long Island. They also explained the devastating toll it would take on their non-profit organizations if the Islanders were to leave in 2015.

“I have been with the team for the better part of a decade and I’m a lifelong Nassau County resident, so it’s a pleasure to introduce you to some of the most dedicated hard-working Long Islanders that I’ve encountered throughout my course of working with the Islanders,” said Rina during the press conference.

Giving back to the community is part of the Islanders organization’s core values. Players visit children at hospitals and local schools, host food drives, bring children to games for high-fives and special meetings and give free tickets to soldiers and their families.

“Each one has a special meaning to our team and I’m sure everyone here knows someone that has been helped by one of these terrific organizations,” Rina said in an interview after the press conference. “Every year, we work with hundreds of different charities based on Long Island. Even though they couldn’t all make it here today, we are happy to have their support every single day.”

In attendance at the press conference were representatives from Rock ‘N Wrap it Up!, The Morgan Center, American Red Cross, Most Valuable Kids, Unlimited Possibilities, Nassau County Firefighters-Wounded Warriors, Cancer Care, Henry Viscardi School – National Center for Disabilities and the Islanders adopted family, Mary and Cody Byrnes.

Dan Krupa, a Nassau County volunteer firefighter and advocate for the Wounded Warriors program, spoke at Thursday's press conference on the importance of keeping the Islanders on Long Island.
Each non-profit took to the podium to share their stories and express the impact they would feel if the team were to leave.

Dan Krupa, a Nassau County volunteer firefighter and advocate for the Wounded Warriors program, has worked with the Islanders to help organize, fundraise and donate Islanders tickets to the families of more than 500 men and women who have served in the military.

“To say they (Islanders) helped out (with Wounded Warriors) is a complete understatement,” Krupa said. They jumped on it and gave us suggestions. They helped out tremendously.”

It struck a chord amongst the audience when Krupa said, “Not voting yes for the referendum not only says goodbye to the Islanders, but to all the good done for the men and women in the military.”

This past year, the Islanders and Nassau Coliseum helped Rock ‘N Wrap it Up donate more than 7,000 meals to our Long Island neighbors in need. That is a huge number, so it is no wonder Sid Mandelbaum, the founder and CEO of Rock ‘N Wrap it Up, is afraid to lose the franchise in 2015.

He said, “The Islanders are a beacon for those who want to emulate their practices. On Long Island, we are blessed to have them.”

I can honestly say that we would not be able to help any of these children here on Long Island without the support of Charles Wang and the New York Islanders. Mr. Wang has quietly been supporting the Morgan Center from day one. It was Charles’ vision and grace that we had such a beautiful first home and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful in our mission to help children battle cancer here on Long Island.” - Nancy Zuch - The Morgan Center
Alisa Marcal, the President of Unlimited Possibilities, spoke about how her non-profit began with five families who felt the need for children who were born missing all or parts of their arms, hands or fingers to feel welcome in the community, but also to meet other children with the same upper-limb differences.

“It’s important for these children to be accepted by the entire community and that they aren’t judge by how they look, but by who they really are,” Marcal said. “That’s where the Islanders have played a huge part in these children’s lives.”

Marcal added, “This past year, through the Bailey’s Buddies program, eight of the children in our group were not just able to go to a game but they were able to sit almost right on the ice and watch a game. After the game, they were able to meet Josh Bailey.”

Like Marcal, Nancy and Rob Zuch founded their non-profit because it was a cause near their own heart. Their daughter Morgan battled Leukemia and is now cured.

“It’s the first and only program for preschool aged children with cancer in the country,” Nancy Zuch explained. “We’ll be starting our ninth successful year this fall and we’re expanding our program to reach additional sites to reach more children across Long Island, the New York metropolitan area and across the rest of the country.”

Zuch said they owe a lot to Islanders Owner Charles Wang because he gave the Morgan Center its first home below the Islanders former corporate office in Plainview.

“I can honestly say that we would not be able to help any of these children here on Long Island without the support of Charles Wang and the New York Islanders,” Zuch said. “Mr. Wang has quietly been supporting the Morgan Center from day one… It was Charles’ vision and grace that we had such a beautiful first home and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful in our mission to help children battle cancer here on Long Island.”

Nine years after opening their doors, the Zuch family hopes to expand the Morgan Center’s reach.

“As we continue in our mission to make a difference in the lives of young children battling cancer here on Long Island, we know that Mr. Wang and our friends at the Islanders will be there to continuously help us and other non-profits across the island to make that difference, provided we do the right thing now and help them (by voting yes on Monday, Aug. 1),” Zuch said.

Keep the Islanders on Long Island by voting yes on Aug. 1 so that the storied franchise can continue working with and supporting local charities like Wounded Warriors, Rock ‘N Wrap it Up, Unlimited Possibilities, The Morgan Center and the hundreds of other non-profits the Islanders work with.
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