Joseph Gemino


Empire State Ride Long Island to Bike Against Cancer

empire state ride
The ride raises funds for cancer research.

Benevolent bicyclists will roll out for a good cause in the inaugural Empire State Ride Long Island this summer to raise money for cancer research.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island and America’s first cancer center, Buffalo-based Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, have teamed up to host the new cycling fundraiser scheduled for July 24. The event will benefit the two healthcare providers to help offer patients on LI access to the newest clinical trials through the Roswell Park Care Network, billed as the most expansive community-based care network in the region.

“The clinical trials we are conducting are pushing the frontiers of cancer care,” said Catholic Health Chairman of Oncology Services Bhoomi Mehrotra, M.D. “Our patients here on Long Island are able to access novel therapies that are making a positive difference, both in longevity and quality of life.”

Registration is now open at a $25 fee for each participant. Riders will commit to fundraising a minimum based on their chosen route, which includes $250 for the 10- and 25-mile routes, $350 for the 62-mile route and $75 for riders younger than18 on any route. The ride will start and end at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park, 25 W. End Ave. in Oyster Bay. 

“At Roswell Park, we believe that no one should have to choose between convenience and quality when facing a decision about where they or a loved one should seek care for cancer,” says Roswell Park President and CEO Candace S. Johnson, Ph.D. “That’s why partnerships with institutes like Catholic Health and the funds raised through Empire State Ride Long Island are so critical to continue to provide the latest clinical trials and treatments to patients across New York State.” 

For more information about this event visit ESRLongIsland.com

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Geraldo Rivera Golf Outing Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Life’s WORC

Geraldo Rivera
Geraldo Rivera addresses golfers at his annual golf outing to raise funds for nonprofit Life's WORC.

Benevolent golfers will tee off Monday Old Westbury Golf & Country Club for the 33rd Geraldo Rivera Golf Classic to honor the 50th anniversary of Life’s WORC, a Garden City-based nonprofit that serves thousands of individuals with autism on Long Island and in Queens.

Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity joins Vicki Schneps, the founder of Life’s WORC, and the events host, Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist Geraldo Rivera at the fundraiser celebration. Schneps is the founder of Schneps Media, the parent company of the Long Island Press. The three will kick-off the festivities commemorating a half century of the nonprofit making a difference in the lives people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Honorees for this year’s event include ALINE Wealth Chief Investment Officer & Founder, Peter J. Klein, and Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, PC partner, E. Christopher Murray. The local business leaders are each continuing the annual tradition that has helped raise millions for the cause.

“After 2020’s enforced hiatus, the landmark tournament will usher in a new day of optimism, especially poignant as we mark our triumphant emergence from the shadow of COVID-19,” the group said in a statement.

Schneps founded Life’s WORC in 1971 out of the needs of her daughter, Lara, who was a resident in the baby buildings of the infamous Willowbrook State institution on Staten Island, which deteriorated after government funding cuts. She gave interviews to reporter Rivera, helping him expose deplorable conditions there before she and her husband filed a federal class action lawsuit that closed the institution. 

The golf classic is a great way to enjoy a day of golf and a country club dinner, while simultaneously helping the developmentally disabled community. The event will be held from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm on Monday, May 17.

For more information about Life’s WORC visit Lifesworc.org.

Freeport-based The Book Fairies Launches Month-long Read-a-Thon

the book fairies
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A Long Island organization is fighting to raise awareness of illiteracy with a read-a-thon.

Freeport-based nonprofit The Book Fairies just launched its month-long, virtual “Once Upon a Read-a-Thon” fundraiser. The annual event will take place during the entire month of May with the goal of raising $100,000 for its mission of distributing books to underserved communities.

“The annual Read-a-Thon is a critical fundraiser for The Book Fairies,” said Eileen Minogue, executive director of the Book Fairies. “While we thrive on the millions of books donated to the organization for us to redistribute, we also need to support the logistics of getting books directly into the hands of children in need.” 

The read-a-thon challenges participants to read for 30 minutes a day for 30 days, either in a group or individually. The month-long, virtual fundraiser will feature appearances and live readings on The Book Fairies’ social media channels with authors such as Gordon Korman, Jude Watson, Nancy Krulik, Nick Bruel, and Renee Flagler, among others.

“The added element for the ‘Once Upon a Read-a-Thon’ of participants challenging themselves to read themselves daily during the month provides enrichment for all,” Minogue said, “and we are thrilled for this year’s participants and sponsors’ help in making this event a success.”

The Book Fairies organization collects reading materials for people in need throughout the New York metro area with the goal of nurturing a love of reading across varying age groups. More than 1,500 individuals volunteer with The Book Fairies, helping to source, sort, and pack boxes of free reading materials for distribution to stock classrooms and build home libraries. Founded in 2012, The Book Fairies has redistributed and donated more than 2.7 million books to local high need schools, shelters, soup kitchens, correctional facilities, and even underdeveloped countries in Africa.

The fundraiser is a fun, family-friendly way to raise awareness and money for the important cause of illuminating illiteracy all over the world.

To sign up for the fundraiser and for more information, click here.

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New Craft Beer Will Raise Funds for Cystic Fibrosis Community on Long Island

craft beer
Riptide Double IPA.

The New York Riptide, Long Island’s professional lacrosse team, is teaming up with a local craft brewery to create a special beer to give back by raising money for a cystic fibrosis foundation.

The Uniondale-based team and the Westhampton Beach Brewing Company created The Riptide Double IPA, and a portion of all sales will go to The Boomer Esiason Foundation, an organization that raises funds and awareness about cystic fibrosis, also based on Long Island.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Westhampton Beach Brewing Company for the launch of a Riptide-inspired beer,” said Rich Lisk, executive vice president of GF Sports & Entertainment. “We are also honored to benefit the Long Island-based Boomer Esiason Foundation, whose inspiring work has been immeasurable in the battle against cystic fibrosis.”

Boomer Esiason, the former NFL MVP quarterback from East Islip, and his wife Cheryl founded the Boomer Esiason Foundation to raise funds and awareness for the cystic fibrosis community after their son Gunnar was diagnosed in 1993. Since its creation, the foundation has raised more than $150,000.

“Boomer Esiason Foundation would like to sincerely thank our friends at the Riptide organization and Westhampton Beach Brewing Company for their generosity and partnership,” said Gunnar Esiason, director of patient outreach for the Boomer Esiason Foundation. “We look forward to continuing in our mission to inspire and support the cystic fibrosis community.”

The special edition Riptide Double IPA is available at the Westhampton Beach Brewing Company tasting room in Westhampton Beach, will be sold in stores throughout Long Island and Westchester County soon, and will continue to be sold all year. 

Riptide Double IPA is dry hopped twice with citra, eldorado and rakau hops. This combination creates big citrus notes of apricot and orange on the nose. As a nod to the West Coast IPA, this DIPA begins with a slight hoppiness, then the burst of mango, bright grapefruit and candy flavors that finishes with a lovely warming effect from the 8.8% ABV. The can’s color scheme of navy blue, orange, and seafoam green captures the traditional team colors of New York’s National League Lacrosse club.

The New York Riptide competes in the National Lacrosse League and calls the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum home. 

The Westhampton Brewing Company was created by environmentally conscious local craft beer enthusiasts.

“We worked hard to create a strong, vibrant and special brew that represents the strength and courage of those battling cystic fibrosis,” said Brian Sckipp, co-founder of the Westhampton Beach Brewing Company. “We feel honored and humbled to join this worthy cause. This partnership allows me to once again be a part of my favorite sport and to contribute to important charitable work.” 

Check out the West Hampton Beach Brewing Company website to explore their other drinks and beer tasting hours and visit Esiason.org  to find out how you can support the cystic fibrosis community.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Tulip Festival Returns to Waterdrinker Family Farm This Weekend

tulip festival
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Waterdrinker Family Farm and Garden in Manorville will bring a bit of Holland to Long Island with its popular annual Tulip Festival on April 17 as the flowers are expected to bloom.

The festival celebrates Dutch culture by displaying more than 500,000 tulips of different varieties and other spring flowers, plus multiple activities for all ages such as visits with barnyard animals, tractor pedal cars, the wooden playland, mini golf, a jumbo jump pad, and more.

This pet friendly event features more than 24 varieties of tulips and other spring bulbs. A Waterdrinker Family Farm bouquet is sure to be the focal point wherever it is displayed.

The festival is also the perfect opportunity to take incredible, beautiful photos to make anyone think it was done by a professional. 

The Waterdrinker Family Farm and Gardens is located at 663 Wading River Road, Manorville. For more information visit water-drinker.com.

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Soul Brew Coffee Shop Opens New Location in Bellmore

soul brew
Courtesy Soul Brew

Soul Brew, a small chain of coffee shops on Long Island dedicated to organic, specialty coffee and tea and serving fresh brunch style eats daily, just opened a third location.

The new location in Bellmore is sure to deliver even more creative and delicious coffee and tea, as well as eating options seven days a week. The café celebrates all things food, coffee, art, music, community, and anything else that feeds your soul.

Owners Kristin Walsh, Dean Lambros, Jeffery Petrocelli, and Nicole Petrocelli opened Soul Brew’s first location in St. James in 2016 — a vision carried out after years of hard work all beginning with Kristin. 

When she was 23 years old, Kristin had a deal fall through to buy the coffee shop she had been managing for years from the owners. She was disappointed and aspired to start a café of her own.

Fortunately, two other café goers decided they shared the same vision as Kristin and joined her. They were Jeffery and Nicole. The final piece came when Kristin met Dean, her now fiancé, who brought the branding experience, and the vision came to light in St. James in November of 2016.

It came to light again in September 2019 in Huntington. And now once more, in Bellmore. Soul Brew Bellmore is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at 2718 Grand Avenue, Bellmore, at the site of the former Bellmore Bean.

To learn about all the Soul Brew locations, visit soulbrew.coffee.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink

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Holocaust Survivor, Educator, Irving Roth, Dies at Age 91

holocaust survivor
Irving roth

Irving Roth, a Holocaust survivor, author, educator, and human rights activist from Williston Park, has passed away. He was 91.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1929, he grew up playing soccer with his parents and brother, Bondi, until the Nazi invasion in 1938, when Jews were not permitted in the park, then the beach, and he was kicked out of school. His family fled to Hungary, but in 1944 when Roth was 14, he and his relatives were captured by the Nazis and forced into the Auschwitz concentration camp. Upon arrival, his grandparents, aunt, and cousin were sent to the gas chambers.

After surviving Auschwitz, Roth and his brother were forced on a death march to Buchenwald, another Nazi concentration camp. Bondi later died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but Roth and thousands of other prisoners were freed when Buchenwald was liberated in 1945. 

Two years later, he and his parents emigrated to Brooklyn, where he completed high school in three semesters. In 1950, he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After his military service, he attended Polytechnic University in Brooklyn to earn his master’s degree in engineering and worked in the electrical engineering field for years, retiring in the early 1990s.

Robert, Roth’s son, told the Press, “One word he never really knew the meaning of too well was leisure.” Robert continued, “Considering where he came from … he really did see good in people.”

He belonged to Temple Judea of Manhasset, where he served as director of the Holocaust Resource Center, traveling around the world to educate people of all ages about the Holocaust.

“We have chosen to honor Roth by changing the name of the center from the Temple Judea Holocaust Resource Center to the Irving Roth Holocaust Resource Center,” said the temple’s leader Rabbi Todd Chizner. “Every time he spoke it was new … It would be eye opening.”

One of the many educational programs Roth developed was the Adopt-A-Survivor program, which allows a student interview a Holocaust survivor. In 2045, 100 years after Auschwitz’s liberation, the interviewer will share the survivor’s story to continue the memory. The program has been adopted by Holocaust centers around the world with thousands of participants. 

Roth also shared his story in a book, Bondi’s Brother: A Story of Love, Loss, Betrayal and Liberation and was featured in a 2020 documentary called Never Again? about the horrors of anti-Semitism.

Donna Rosenblum, who worked with Roth for years, spoke about his views on history. 

“When you teach history, it’s not about the places and the events, it’s about the people…” she said. He would ask, “Will you do that for me? Will you speak for me when I cannot speak?”

Roth is survived by his partner Myrna, his sons Robert and Edward and many loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Long-awaited Route 347 Repair Work to Resume

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A long-stalled approximately $100 million project to repair a rough two-mile stretch of Route 347 in Suffolk County is moving forward, with work expected to resume this spring.

The New York State Department of Transportation last month issued a request for proposals (RFP) for contractors to bid on repairing the road between Gibbs Pond Road in Nesconset and Hallock Road, near the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. 

“This project has been a priority focus for us to ensure that all Long Islanders can safely travel,” said Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association (LICA), who called it “one of the most important roadway construction projects on Long Island.

The group has been pushing for the project for three years. An estimated 700,000 drivers travel this stretch of roadway daily. The work is part of a larger series of construction to repair 15 miles of Route 347, also known as Nesconset Highway, that started more than a decade ago.

The flow of traffic in the area has proven frustrating, repeatedly reverting from two to three lanes and back to two lanes. 

Night work will be involved during construction when construction resumes.

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Man Arrested For Alleged Hit-and-run That Killed Nicki Minaj’s Father

nicki minaj's father
Charles Polevich, 70, of Mineola. (Courtesy NCPD)

An alleged hit-and-run driver who allegedly killed rapper Nicki Minaj’s father in Mineola last week has surrendered to Nassau County police, authorities said.

Charles Polevich, 70, was charged with leaving the scene of an auto accident with a fatality, and tampering with evidence in the death of 64-year-old Robert Maraj, who was walking Northbound on Roslyn Avenue when he was struck.

“It would have been an accident, an auto accident, with no charges if he would’ve stayed,” Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commander of the Homicide Squad, told reporters Wednesday during a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola.

Investigators said that Polevich stepped out of the car, saw that he had hit Maraj, and allegedly fled the scene before trying to hide the damage to the vehicle.

Detectives used surveillance footage of the surrounding area to track the 1992 white Volvo station wagon in the hours leading up to the crime and afterward, leading them to the suspect’s home, police said.

Fitzpatrick mentioned there was no way to tell if Polevich was under the influence at the time of the crash due to the fact that he fled the scene. Fitzpatrick said there was no evidence the driver had been at a bar.

Polevich has no criminal record and no notable past driver’s license history. He owns a house in Mineola and resides in Guam, a U.S. territory. He has not given a statement or any further comments to police.

Polevich was arraigned at First District Court in Hempstead, where he pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $250,000 bond, $125,000 cash, or $1.25 million bond. He is set to return to court on Feb. 19.

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Long Island Valentine’s Day Weddings Persist Despite Covid-19

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Valentine’s Day normally means wedding sprees at many town halls on Long Island, but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced some officiants and couples to get creative with their municipal ceremonies this year.

While towns have updated their rules to meet coronavirus pandemic restrictions, some have offered workarounds such as Zoom events, house calls, and other options in order to accommodate couples looking to get hitched on the most romantic day of the year. The shift comes as some town clerks and others who perform wedding ceremonies have been busier than ever trying to accommodate couples trying to tie the knot throughout the pandemic. 

“There were so many first responders initially, I was marrying heroes basically, how do you say no to those people?” Oyster Bay Town Clerk Richard LaMarca said. “Last year… I personally performed 175 ceremonies and between the rest of my staff I would say we easily doubled that.” 

Couples and officiants pivoted their wedding venues nationwide amid restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, including everything from driveway weddings to virtual ceremonies.

LaMarca said at first his office tried to limit the ceremonies to Town of Oyster Bay residents only, but as New York City and other localities limited gatherings gatherings, he had more and more pleas from police officers, firefighters, doctors, and others on the front lines of the pandemic that wanted to get married quickly due to fear of the unknown.

Oyster Bay wasn’t alone. Huntington Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia said that despite closing town hall to wedding ceremonies, he has performed more weddings in the past year than would ever be normally recorded.

“In the beginning of the pandemic, you had doctors and nurses that wanted to get married because they were worried about dying,” he said, noting how he has made multiple house calls to perform weddings. “March, April, I was dressed up in a hazmat suit performing wedding ceremonies… issuing marriage licenses to people in their cars, but we got it all done, we adapted.” 

The Town of Southampton issued 347 couples marriage licenses in 2020, up from 324 the year prior, despite the fact that weddings were on hold in March, officials said. The number “would have been higher” if the town didn’t restrict ceremonies to residents only, Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer told Dan’s Papers. 

The Town of North Hempstead, which on Friday held a wedding to renew the vows of a couple that survived the virus, also tweaked its annual Valentine’s Day vow plans. Virtual ceremonies aired online and on its TV station will highlight three couples at different stages of marriage at 7 a.m., 11 a.m., and 5 p.m. Feb. 15 through Feb. 19. 

The Town of Islip would normally extend their Valentine’s Day wedding hours, but because Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year, ceremonies were held on Friday. Some smaller towns on the East End saw no major difference this year, while the Town of Brookhaven canceled town hall weddings until further notice.

The Town of Hempstead, which in years past sent wedding invitations to the media, hoping for coverage of its annual Feb. 14 town hall wedding ceremonies, did not respond to requests for comment on how the pandemic affected its Valentine’s Day plans this year. 

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