Young cancer survivor wins praise at Loccisano Foundation gala
A 9-year-old girl who survived cancer won praise for her courage and determination at a dinner hosted by a Brooklyn-based children’s cancer charity Friday night.
Maggie Kelly, of Belle Harbor, Rockaway, was presented with the Michele Grace Marciano Award of Hope at the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation’s Hopefest Gala at Gargiulo’s Restaurant.
Maggie was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a form of pediatric cancer, at the age of 1. Her parents Bill and Daniel Kelly took her to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer for chemotherapy treatments and a series of surgeries. Maggie bravely endured the treatments and operations and today is thriving, according to Loccisano Memorial Foundation leaders.
The foundation was established in memory of Francesco “Frankie” Loccisano, a Xaverian High School student from Dyker Heights who died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 17. During his battle with cancer, Frankie expressed a strong desire to launch a nonprofit foundation to aid kids with cancer, according to his mother, Camille Orrichio Loccisano, who is one of the founders of the charity and serves as its executive director.
The foundation, which was started shortly after Frankie’s death, provides assistance, including financial and emotional support, to families of children with cancer. The organization is also known as Frankie’s Mission.
At the Hopefest Gala, the board of directors also presented awards to John Manning of Manning Mortgage Brokers, Domenick Cama of Investors Bank and Police Officer P.J. Conley for their work in helping cancer patients.
Manning was recognized for his work with Project Hope, a program that serves childhood cancer patients during the holiday season. Cama received an award for commitment to several charities. He also presented a check for $55,000 from Investors Bank to the foundation.
Conley, who is assigned to the 19th Precinct in Manhattan, was saluted for aiding Charnee and Israel Merrit, a single mom and her little boy who is battling cancer. After the family’s car was towed, Conley personally paid the fee to retrieve the automobile and then paid for a cab to help Charnee bring Israel to his chemotherapy treatment. Conley and the officers of the 19th Precinct actively support Ronald McDonald House by hosting toy drives and other events for children.
“The financial and emotional needs of a family facing childhood cancer is something of an orphan and unknown cause, and we are so grateful to those who support our mission. Among our many events, our Hopefest Gala is our most opportune time to raise funds, awareness and hope, and we thank our extraordinary honorees for being such a strong part of the evening,” Orricio Loccisano said.