Bay Ridge

Linda’s Angels raise money for American Cancer Society

November 17, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The fundraiser drew a large crowd, including young Angelia Lubrano and Shelia Dhamija (front) and Ann Kelly, Deborah Gillick-Powers, Donna Russo-Lubrano and Ava Ford (rear left to right). Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Athletes usually prepare for a big race by training. But members of a relay team called Linda’s Angels are getting ready for the race of their lives in a different way — by raising money.

The team hosted a fundraiser at the Soul Café at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge on Nov. 13 and garnered close to $4,000 in a single night.

And they’re not through yet!

The team, which plans to donate the windfall to the American Cancer Society, is planning other fundraisers. Members will also raise money through their participation in the cancer society’s annual Relay For Life event that will take place on June 18 at the Fort Hamilton High School Athletic Field. The local event is called Relay For Life Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights.

Relay For Life, which takes place in cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world, is one of the largest fundraising events for the American Cancer Society.

The relay is an all-day event in which dozens of participating teams walk continuously around a track on an athletic field to symbolize the determination to beat cancer. The participating teams also raise money for the cancer society through pledge donations from family members, friends and co-workers.

Linda’s Angels is named in honor of Linda Swalling, a cancer survivor whose courage and determination to beat the odds is an inspiration to friends like Donna Russo-Lubrano.

With Swalling as captain and Russo-Lubrano as co-captain, Linda’s Angels was formed in 2003. The team takes part in Relay For Life every year.

Russo-Lubrano said that Swalling had told her years ago about a Relay For Life event in Florida that she had attended. It gave Russo-Lubrano a bold idea.

“I had wanted to start a team in 2003 after Linda Swalling, my dear friend and daughter’s godmother, was in remission and she had explained about Relay in Florida. I suggested to our friends that we should show her our support by participating in Bay Ridge Relay For Life, and our friends were quick to agree and form Linda’s Angels to show how much we cared and wanted to support her,” Russo-Lubrano told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Linda’s Angels has proven to be a fundraising powerhouse for the American Cancer Society.

For the past three years in a row, Linda’s Angels has been the top fundraising team at the Bay Ridge Relay For Life event, according to Russo-Lubrano, who is also a member of the organizing committee for the entire Relay For Life event.

Over the past 15 years, the team has raised an impressive $101,000, she said.

This year, the members of Linda’s Angels are Linda Swalling, Donna Russo-Lubrano, Josephine Balsamo, Deborah Gillick-Powers, Joseph Lubrano, Angelia Lubrano, Donna DeSiano, Marc DeSiano, Terrie Moseder, Choi Ling Blakey and Maryann Coluccio.

“Relay is very important to me,” Russo-Lubrano told the Eagle. “My father had cancer and so many others in my family, as well as some of my dearest friends, were touched by this horrible disease. I find comfort in knowing that anything we can do to raise money for research will help find a cure.”

The Nov. 13 fundraiser was put together by Russo-Lubrano and Gillick-Powers with help from DeSiano. Guests played bingo and placed bids in a silent auction on such items as a flat screen television, a Tiffany basket and restaurant gift certificates.

Russo-Lubrano said she is looking forward to Relay For Life next June. “It’s a fun day out for the family. It’s not just the relay itself. There are a lot of activities like children’s games, raffles and a DJ playing music,” she said.

For more information on the local Relay For Life event, visit and type in the zip code 11209.


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