A fundraiser and raffle auction were held Friday night at to honor long time Mineola resident Dennis Donelan who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Jaqueline "Jackie" Donelan and her sister Kelly hosted the benefit in order to raise awareness about the deadly disease, and to register donors to help their brother and all people who are living with leukemia.
Dennis's condition is known as acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, which is a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells. AML accounts for approximately 1.2 percent of cancer deaths in the United States.
When he told his family about the diagnosis after his blood work had come back, Jackie felt that she had to act and came up with the idea for doing a fundraiser. She decided that she would contact German-based DKMS, is the world's largest bone marrow center, to help with the registry of marrow donors. DKMS recently opened a donor center in New York City in 2004 as part of their expanded mission.
Jackie said that the goal was not a monetary one, but rather to raise awreness of the registry and to find people willing to donate marrow. "Tonight is to raise awareness of leukemia in general, and to register as many serous bone marrow donors as we can, so that we can help save as many peoples lives as possible," she said.
The night tuned out to be a big success. About 200 people packed into the pub. The benefit, which lasted from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., helped to raise about $3,500 dollars and registered about 18 potential donors.
Nicole Russo was amazed by the amount of people who had come to show their support. "I think during the holiday season, everyone wants to help someone and I know that I have friends who don't know Dennis, but who came out tonight to help out" she said. Nicole dutifully helped out by registering people to be bone marrow donors. The outpouring of generosity overwhelmed the Donelans.
A getaway weekend package to Manhattan, a 32 inch flat screen TV, a Nintendo Wii, 4 third-row Nets tickets, a $100 gift certificate to , four Islander's tickets and an original drawing of "Popeye the Sailor Man" by legendary illustrator Myron Waldman were among a few of the prizes raffled off through out the evening. Friends and family donated all of the night's raffles prizes.
The Latham Road Band provided the night's musical entertainment. Band members Marty Kerns, Terrence Kumar, Rob, Bello and Mike Manister were happy to contribute to the charitable cause. They kept the crowd dancing to their rock repertoire, covering everything from early '60s classic rock songs from the Beatles to modern hits by Stone Temple Pilots and Train. "We are very happy to help out in any way, and playing tonight is definitely for a great cause," frontman Marty Kerns said.
The night bought out a few local celebrities as well. Rich Fenster is no stranger to doing charitable work. In 1999 Fenster walked from the Home Depot in Westbury to Our Lady of Hope in Carle Place, where he was welcomed by a police escort, which trailed him all the to the Verazzano Bridge. From there, he walked and rode his bicycle all the way to Jacksonville, Florida, all in the name of fighting leukemia.
Terry Taylor, drummer for the band Autodrone and former Mineola resident, was on hand to support the Donelan family. Taylor, who had been childhood friends with Jackie ever since their days in school, recently completed the "Iceland Airways" music festival in Iceland and has a single about to be featured in the television shows "Grey's Anatomy" and "Gossip Girl" felt compelled to part of the night's charity event.
The Donelan family say that the tremendous amount of support from family and friends, including many of Dennis' co-workers, has truly been a blessing this holiday season. Jackie wanted to especially thank Bob Miller, one of the night's bartenders for helping to organize the evening and putting the event together, all in the name of a great cause.