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Hundreds March For Thomas Valva in East Islip

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SASI Executive Director Priscilla Arena. (Photo by Ed Shin)

Nearly 500 people attended the March for Change on Feb. 8 at Heckscher State Park in East Islip to honor the memory of Thomas Valva, an 8-year-old boy with autism who died of hypothermia after being left to sleep in an unheated garage overnight.

They came together to support Thomas’s mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, and to call for urgently changes to the system so that no other child would suffer the same injustice. The boy’s father and his father’s fiancee have pleased not guilty to second-degree murder and child endangerment in the case.

Related Story: Thomas Valva Case Sparks New Questions For Suffolk Authorities

The march was organized by SASI (Specialized Autism Support & Information), and went from noon until 3 p.m. Members from several organizations that help children, a number of elected officials, and many parents, grandparents, and community members all braved the cold and the wind to express outrage at the flawed system that impacts millions of children and families and allows devastating harm.

The march took place after some brief speeches. Justyna Zubko-Valva spoke of the promise she made to her Tommy, that we are not going to stop until changes are made and all children are safe, leaders from SASI spoke about protecting children, especially the most vulnerable ones, and several elected officials spoke of renewing and furthering their efforts to make necessary changes to the system and fix the problems.  

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L. to R.: Debora Thivierge, Legislator Sam Gonzalez (D-Brentwood), SASI Priscilla Arena, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Leigh Ann Barde. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Justyna Zubko-Valva, mother of Thomas Valva. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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L. to R.: SASI Danielle Brooks, Justyna Zubko-Valva, SASI Executive Director Priscilla Arena, Kathy Cole. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Christina Lentini and Brianna Rotondo. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Marching for Thomas Valva. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Justyna Zubko-Valva marching for her son. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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L. to R.: Christina Lentini, Priscilla Arena, Tiffany Castillo, Rhonda Klch, Genine Traina. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Local officials and SASI in support of Justyna Zubko-Valva and her remembering her son Thomas Valva. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Leigh Ann Barde. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Marching for Thomas Valva. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Bikers against Child Abuse supporting Justyna Zubko-Valva. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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(Photo by Ed Shin)
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SASI Executive Director Priscilla Arena, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Justyna Zubko-Valva. (Photo by Ed Shin)

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