Dream Factory of Syracuse to host annual kickball tournament fundraiser
To help make a dream come true for a chronically ill child, all you have to do is play a game of kickball. The Dream Factory of Syracuse is hosting its fourth annual Kicks for Kids Kickball Tournament Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Syracuse Kickball Park on Oswego Road in Liverpool. The co-ed tournament, which begins at 10 a.m., lasts all day and features food, games and live entertainment (donated by RMD Premier DJ Ryno), as well as raffles, a silent auction, a dunk tank and a bounce house for kids.
For three years, Stand Against Suicide has been working to end the stigma associated with mental illness. In order to help further that mission, the Elbridge-based nonprofit holds a walk every year at the Syracuse Inner Harbor. This year’s event will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18; registration begins at 10 a.m. The event also includes music, raffles, face painting and other
Since May 23, no one has seen or heard from Edward Weslowski. Now, in hopes of bringing the Clay man home, his family is offering a reward for information leading to his whereabouts.
Howie Hawkins is hoping to change the political landscape of New York state. “If you do public polling, the majority is very progressive on economic issues, but they never get what they want,” Hawkins said. “A study just came out, the oligarchy study, looked at 1,799 federal issues. They went to the top 10 percent. Any time [the top 10 percent] wanted one thing and the 90 percent wanted the other, of course, they got their way on every issue there was conflict. This goes back to 1979. That tells you. They say, is this a democracy or a plutocracy or an oligarchy? And I think it is [an oligarchy] until we organize a party that can speak for the majority of the people. That’s been the thing that I think we need to do, what we’re trying to do.” That’s why Hawkins is running for governor, taking on the Democratic political establishment and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
Every year, more than 1,000 cats and dogs are euthanized purely because the shelters have no place to put them. According to the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse (AAGS), an animal welfare agency that serves all of Central New York, the Syracuse area has a higher rate of euthanasia than any other area in Upstate New York. In the meantime, hundreds of homeless pets die on the streets.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund seeks to locate photos of all those killed during the conflict in Vietnam. So far, organizers have collected nearly 34,000 photos of 58,286 casualties. The photos are being displayed on a virtual “Wall of Faces,” which can be found at vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces.
I need your help to make bail. No, not that kind of bail. I’ve never been arrested. But I am going to “jail.” I’ve been recruited to help the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) with their annual Lock-Up fundraiser. Such events occur nationwide all year long. Business owners and community leaders (and, apparently, weekly newspaper reporters) agree to be “put behind bars for good.” We’re asked to raise money from friends, family, co-workers and, in your case, readers to help make “bail,” which will then benefit the MDA’s research, medical clinics and summer camp experiences.
Heavy rains in Western New York have done significant damage to a camp that provides a respite for kids and young adults touched by cancer. Camp Good Days and Special Times in Branchport experienced more than $160,000 in damages in last week’s floods in and around Penn Yan, in Yates County, and that number is expected to climb as workers continue to assess the camp. The damage was so catastrophic that the camp has had to cancel its first sessions of the spring.
For several years, Tony Testa and his wife, Becky, participated in the Miracle Ride for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Both were motorcycle enthusiasts, and they enjoyed helping to raise money for the children’s hospital. But in 2004, it got personal. “My stepson, Jim, had a child who was born in 2004, Aiden,” Testa said. “Aiden was born with quite a few challenges.” Aiden Snell was born with Pierre-Robin Syndrome (PRS), a birth defect that causes cleft palate, smaller-than-normal or underdeveloped jaw, a tongue that sits back too far in the throat, obstructing breathing, and several other issues. The genetic condition affects approximately one out of every 1,500 children. In Aiden’s case, the disorder required surgery just a few days after he was born.
Editors at Eagle Newspapers were honored for their work at two recent awards ceremonies that celebrate the best journalism in Central New York and statewide.
Central New York educators can take advantage of courses designed to help them implement the Common Core curriculum at OCM BOCES next week. From 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 27 and 28, educators in the Syracuse area can attend Discovery Education’s Common Core Academies at BOCES’ Central New York Regional Information Center, 6075 East Molloy Road, Syracuse. The courses will be lead by Common Core state standards expert Dr. Karen Beerer and hosted by Discovery Education, a publisher and content provider that offers textbooks and multimedia content that support Common Core implementation.
Community college students may soon have a harder time finding child care while they go to school. In his 2014-15 executive budget proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed cutting $653,000 from the state’s operating grant to the State University of New York’s child care centers. The cut would come in addition to a reduction in the federal Child Care Block Grant, which subsidizes care for children of needy student-parents. While the New York State Senate restored Cuomo’s cut in their budget proposal, advocates say the cuts faced by SUNY centers in the last several years are still devastating and need to be restored. And it’s community colleges that will likely see the most damaging consequences.
According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York is looking at a $2 million budget surplus. Cuomo has talked a lot about the surplus and his plans for it. Unfortunately for him, it’s not his money to spend.
School districts in Central New York and beyond are in trouble, and it’s time we do something about it. That’s the message behind a pair of forums to be held Feb. 4 and 5 in Auburn and North Syracuse by the Central New York School Boards Association (CNY SBA) in conjunction with the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison, Cayuga-Onondaga, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga and Oswego County BOCES. The forums, which will take place at Auburn West Middle School and North Syracuse Junior High School, respectively, will focus on the major factors causing those financial issues and how school administrators, teachers and community members can make a difference.
The Central New York SPCA is looking for the community’s help to raise the money to construct more than three dozen new kennels to improve the health and safety of their large dogs, accomplishing the second phase of a project they call Kennels for Canines.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, voters in 23 school districts across three counties will be asked to go to the polls to approve a building purchase that will have no impact on their wallets. Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES is looking to purchase the former Nationwide Insurance building, located at 110 Elwood Davis Road in the town of Salina. According to BOCES information officer Laurie Cook, the purchase would allow OCM-BOCES to relocate several programs now housed in leased space.
The lack of available help from senior care agencies is just one of the reasons New York state was ranked 48th in a 2011 national report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation out of 50 states with regard to support for its family caregivers. Caregivers also face extensive waiting lists for adult day care programs and rehab facilities, a lack of support for in the work environment, limited or no access to transportation and inadequate informational resources regarding care options for their loved ones. And with the Baby Boomer generation moving into their golden years, the problem is only going to get worse.
’Tis the season of giving, and you needn’t look too far to find a worthy recipient for your time and financial donations. Central New York has a wealth of deserving organizations doing good, and they’re all in need of your support. To get you started, here’s an A-to-Z primer (minus X), complete with a description of each along with websites, contact information and basic needs. Remember, these are just a few of the many deserving nonprofits in Central New York, and the introductions offered barely scratch the surface of the services they offer. Check out the websites of these organizations for more information. Got your own favorites? Feel free to share at Facebook.com/eaglestarreview.
A childhood friend of the woman killed Sunday afternoon on Route 57 has launched a fundraiser to help her family pay their medical expenses and funeral costs.
For 15 years, Terri and Vince Cook thought they had a daughter. But as they watched their child change from the vibrant, happy kid they’d always known to a withdrawn, depressed and ultimately suicidal teen, they knew something was very wrong. “We’d been through the hard teenage years with [our older son], and we’d seen this,” Terri Cook said. “This was different. This was someone who was just struggling and nobody could figure out why.” It took years of turmoil before the Cooks could determine the root of the problem: Drew Cook was transgender, which meant that although he was physically female, he identified mentally and emotionally as a male.
The smell of Laurie Farrell’s daughter is starting to fade from the box of mementos she brought home from the hospital five years ago. The contents of the hand-painted box — a Beanie Baby, a receiving blanket, a small knitted cap, a crocheted blanket, a tiny gold ring and a bracelet — is all Farrell has left of her little girl. Emily was stillborn in November of 2008. “These are things she wore, and these are amazing mementos for me as a parent,” said Farrell, of Onondaga Hill. “Every year when I open it up on the anniversary date, I can still smell her.”
The DSA of CNY offers a number of activities for families of those with Down syndrome, but its biggest event — and the only one it offers that’s open to the entire community — is the Buddy Walk, which celebrates its 15th year this fall. “At our Buddy Walk, we do not focus on the therapies, doctor appointments, etc., that is a part of their daily life. We celebrate the joy of having them in our lives and family,” Bottego said. “Most of the committee members have worked on the Buddy Walk from the beginning. We have volunteers who come back year after year because it such an uplifting event.” The Buddy Walk will take place on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Long Branch Park in Liverpool. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m.; walkers who have pre-registered can pick up their preordered shirts. Walk-in registration is also available. T-shirts are available to purchase. Children’s games are open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and only shut down while the walk is in progress. Attendees can purchase raffle tickets The walk starts at 10:30 a.m. The walkers follow the path out of the Longbranch Park area into the Willow Bay section of Onondaga Lake Park.
Patrick Oneill was already facing multiple counts of animal cruelty when he allegedly left his Labrador retriever, Ali, in his car for more than four hours on Sept. 2 while he enjoyed the New York State Fair with his girlfriend. Ali, left in the 100-degree car with no water and one window barely cracked, died despite the efforts of state troopers and bystanders who tried to save her. Animal advocates are saying she didn’t have to die.
In a secure courtyard near Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, on a daily basis, you can find a gathering of people engaged in any number of activities. They might be playing Bingo or trivia. They might be working on a small building project. If you head into the indoor area, you might find them baking or preparing snacks. What might surprise you is to find that all of these men and women have Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. The Kirkpatrick Day Program is a social adult day program provided by the Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York. The program, which dates back to the early 1980s, came under the auspices of the Alzheimer’s Association in 1987.
Lauren Dodge knows all too well the pain of losing someone to suicide. “I got involved with [Stand Against Suicide] because of the friends that I lost to suicide growing up,” said Dodge, who lives in Liverpool. “I not only felt the direct heartbreak of losing a friend, but I also saw what their families had to go through after losing their child.” The worst part was that no one was able to talk about it. “Experiencing the loss of a friend to suicide when it was a ‘hush-hush subject’ in high school made the loss very difficult to cope with,” Dodge said. That’s why Dodge became secretary of Stand Against Suicide (SAS), which was founded in 2010 by Tara Dennee in memory of her father, Wayne Olmstead, who died by suicide in 2008. The Elbridge-based organization gained nonprofit status in 2012. It seeks to raise awareness about the risks of mental illness and to encourage those in need to get help. Through a grant from the Pepsi Foundation and local fundraisers, Stand Against Suicide seeks to erase the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental illness and suicide. SAS hosts support group meetings every Tuesday at the Elbridge Community Church for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, for those struggling with depression or other mental illness and their family members and for volunteers looking to help.
As it turned out, Erin Hannagan was one of the lucky ones. Hannagan was 16 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease May 25, 1993. But she would beat the disease. “I had been coughing for quite some time and had been diagnosed with multiple ‘colds,’” Hannagan recalled. “It finally got so bad that my mom took me to an urgent care center where a chest X-ray was done that revealed a large mediastinal [cavity containing the heart, esophagus, trachea, thymus and aorta] mass.”
A large group of politicians, citizens and businessmen and –women have launched an initiative to encourage the state to keep a 1.4-mile stretch of Interstate 81 as it is instead of turning it into an arterial boulevard. Savei81.org revealed itself at a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 1, in downtown Syracuse, where supporters spoke out against the New York State Department of Transportation’s proposal to turn I-81’s viaduct stretch, the elevated portion of the highway that runs through the central business district, into an arterial boulevard through the city with stoplights and cross streets, something the group said would irreparably damage the city’s economy by creating a backlog of traffic. The group also issued a press release after the conference outlining its goals.
Maureen Humphrey lost her child to cancer, but not in the traditional sense. Humphrey was pregnant in June of 2001 when she learned that she had clear cell adenocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive cervical cancer that necessitated a radical hysterectomy as well as the removal of 28 lymph nodes. “No one ever expects that cancer or illness will happen to them, and we certainly felt the same way,” said Susan Bertrand of Baldwinsville, Humphrey’s older sister. “Maureen's cancer diagnosis was a shock, but worse than the diagnosis was the grief she felt knowing she was going to lose her unborn child and never again have the chance to conceive or carry her own child again.”
Chris Arnold and Ellen Yeomans thought a bone marrow transplant would cure their daughter’s leukemia. Paige Yeomans Arnold was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in June of 1993. The cancer is typically found in adults, not children, who are more likely to get acute myelogenous lymphoma (AML) or acute lymphocytic lymphoma (ALL). At first, she was treated with an experimental drug called Interferon, which put her into a brief remission. But a few months later, the cancer returned, leaving the family with just one choice: a bone marrow transplant.
At first, Melissa Lowell thought her son Nate was just tired. “This time last year [he started getting sick],” Melissa said. “It started off, he just had a cough. It was the end of the school year and he seemed fatigued. It was nothing out of the ordinary. I just figured it was because school was over. He was leaving a teacher he loved. He gets emotional with change, as any kid does.” But the cough didn’t go away. Nate, then 10, was complaining that he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow. After a couple of weeks, Melissa and her husband Jimmy took him to an urgent care facility near their home in Herkimer County. He was diagnosed with asthma and given prednisone and an inhaler, which helped at first, but soon proved ineffective. A visit to Nate’s pediatrician July 3, 2012, suggested pneumonia.
Jenni-Lyn Watson lived to dance. In her memory, her family is holding a golf tournament to help others who share the same passion. Jenni-Lyn Watson, a 2008 Liverpool High School graduate, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Steven Pieper, in November of 2010 while she was home on break from Mercyhurst College, where she was studying dance. Pieper is currently serving a 23-year-to-life sentence in prison. The golf tournament, to be held Saturday, July 20, at Radisson Greens in Baldwinsville, raises money for the Jenni-Lyn Watson Memorial Fund.
Five years from now, the Syracuse skyline could look very different. Instead of an elevated highway heading into the city, the New York State Department of Transportation could construct an arterial boulevard. Or an underground tunnel. Or an iconic bridge. Truthfully, the DOT isn’t sure yet what the new Interstate 81 will look like. They just know that something needs to be done to replace the existing structure. “Bridges are designed to last for a certain period of time,” said Beau Duffy, public information officer for the NYS DOT. “The I-81 viaduct in Syracuse is reaching this point in time. Because repair and refurbishment of the bridge involves a significant investment, it makes sense, from a cost-benefit perspective, to look at potential alternatives for the future of the corridor.”
Editors at Eagle Newspapers were honored for their work at two recent awards ceremonies that celebrate the best journalism in Central New York and statewide.
Reisie Murchison has every reason to believe in angels. “I met Norm, and his words were, ‘We’ll be there for you,’” Murchison said. “I remember like it was yesterday. I thanked him, he said, ‘You don’t understand. We’ll be there for you until the end.’ And he didn’t lie. Operation Southern Comfort came in and put me in a comfort zone. I felt comforted that all of these angels were around me doing everything they could. They fixed up everything.” Murchison will get to thank her angels in person this weekend. Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, Murchison, her daughter and her father will fly up to Syracuse from St. Bernard Parish, La., for the annual Crawfish Festival, the major fundraiser for Operation Southern/Northern Comfort.
Up-and-comers in the Central New York music scene will compete for prizes as well as the coveted title of “Best Band” this weekend, and they’ll support a good cause at the same time. Stand Against Suicide will host its inaugural Battle of the Bands on Saturday, April 20, at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College. Doors open at 11 a.m. and bands begin competing at noon. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for adults. Eighteen bands will compete for a chance at the title as well as prizes.
When Caryn Daher’s son, Jon, was little, he was into everything — even more than the average toddler. “He was… constantly bumping and crashing into things and people and seeking-jumping type activities,” said Daher, a Cicero resident. “He had difficulty in regulating and responding to movement activities appropriately. It went far beyond a ‘busy’ toddler.” In addition, Jon struggled with a variety of sounds, often withdrawing or avoiding certain situations because of the noise level. He had higher-than-average sensitivities to food, temperature and touch. In addition, his speech was delayed. It was that delay that led to help for his other issues. Through his speech therapist, Jon was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.
WCNY has launched a new effort aimed at helping local nonprofits. “Won’t You Help a Neighbor?” uses the public broadcast station’s many media resources and connections to promote causes near and dear to Central New York residents.
More than 20 years after losing her mother to cancer, Kristin Atkinson is channeling her grief into helping other women. Atkinson of Cicero, Kristin Johnson of Cicero and Tara Polcaro of North Syracuse started The Molly Project as a way to provide comfort to women affected by cancer and their families. Named after Atkinson’s late mother, The Molly Project got its start a year ago when Johnson’s sister called her, looking for a way to help a co-worker with cancer.
With a $20 million budget gap facing Syracuse, the city’s busiest fire station may be on the line. City officials have floated the idea of closing down Syracuse Fire Department Engine Company No. 7, located at 1039 E. Fayette St. But the members of Local No. 280, the firefighters’ union, say that would be a very bad idea. “In the past two years, we’ve had several incidents of multiple fires in the city. We were stripped, using every resource,” said Paul Motondo, vice president of Local No. 280. “Losing an engine company, especially this one because of where it is and what its responses are, it’ll create a huge void.”
This year, for the first time, Ophelia’s Place has the opportunity to participate in one of Syracuse’s premiere charity events. The Syracuse Auto Dealers Association will host their 15th annual Charity Preview starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. In 2012, the event raised $213,000, bringing the all-time total to more than $2 million. “The non-profits do not incur any cost associated with this, so it is a wonderful opportunity to use this event to help fill the gaps in our budget,” said Jodie Wilson-Dougherty, executive director of Ophelia’s Place. “Our time and energy are all in trying to sell tickets. SADA does all the work on logistics.”
As we enter the New Year, many of us are pledging to get healthier — to lose weight, exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables. But possibly the healthiest resolution, and one of the most enduring, is to quit smoking. But given that tobacco kills more people every year than alcohol, car accidents, cocaine, heroin, homicide, suicide, fire and AIDS combined, wouldn’t it be better never to start?
Cicero Supervisor Jim Corl’s name is on the short list of candidates being considered for an appointment to the Onondaga County Legislature. With Third District County Legislator Bill Meyer leaving for a county appointment, the seat will be left open for a replacement to be decided by County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Mahoney appointed Meyer as assistant director of the Veterans Service Agency last week in a shakeup that also left the ninth district seat open; Legislator Mark Stanczyk will be the new deputy commissioner of community services. She also appointed her campaign manager, Ben Dublin, as her chief of staff and communications director Marty Skanen as deputy commissioner of parks and recreation.
There’s a lot of conflict in education these days, but experts agree on one thing: something needs to change. “New York State has high academic standards and spends more money per student than any other state in the nation,” said a report by the New NY Education Reform Commission issued last week. “However, we are not seeing enough return on investment, especially for the large number of students from a background of poverty. New York lags far behind most states in graduation rates; only 74 percent of New York’s students graduate from high school, and only 35 percent are college ready.” That’s why Gov. Andrew Cuomo convened the the 25-member commission last April: to better prepare New York’s 2.7 million K through 12 students for the future. The commission issued its preliminary recommendations last week to mixed reviews.
A 2-year-old girl who was the victim of an assault on New Year’s Eve has died.
Operation Southern Comfort, as well as Operation Northern Comfort, its locally-active counterpart, has sent volunteers to areas affected by Sandy twice since the beginning of November. Norm Andrzejewski, a Liverpool resident who has been to the hardest-hit areas of the Gulf Coast more than 40 times since Katrina struck, said it’s an all-too-familiar scene. “It’s a lot like New Orleans, a lot like Mississippi, especially in some of the harder-hit areas like Rockaway,” he said. “There’s a lot of sand, a lot of homes that need to be mucked out. There are a lot of families hurting.” That’s why ONC and OSC are teaming up in a new effort, one Andrzejewski is calling Operation Sandyland, to help those affected by the latest disaster. A team, led by Andrzejewski’s granddaughter Kristin, will be heading down with a rental truck on Dec. 22 to help out wherever they can.
Want to get the people on your gift list something unique this year? Why not try something from one of Central New York’s many locally-owned businesses? To get you started, here’s an A-to-Z primer, with descriptions and suggestions. Got your own favorites? Feel free to share on our Facebook page.
When you put some of Central New York’s most popular bands under one roof with the goal of having them compete for the title of “Best Band,” it should make for some good entertainment. When you do it for a good cause, it should make for a great fundraiser.
Ursula Rozum won’t be Central New York’s first Green congresswoman, but she’s still pleased with the results of last week’s election. “I am very pleased with the results. An overwhelming majority in Central New York rejected Ann Marie Buerkle’s extreme right-wing views and an unprecedented number decided to vote against the policies of the corporate parties,” Rozum said. “Of course, we don’t know how many would have voted in support of my progressive policies if we had a truly democratic voting system. But it’s heartening to know there are so many people in our district that support a positive progressive program and who are fed up with the bipartisan policies that are not addressing the serious problems we’re facing.”
On Election Day, voters in Central New York resoundingly rejected national Republican candidates, re-electing President Barack Obama by a vote of 59 percent to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s 38 percent, choosing Democrat Dan Maffei over conservative opponent Ann Marie Buerkle for Congress and, at a more local level, selecting more liberal Al Stirpe instead of Don Miller. While the presidential vote isn’t a big surprise — Obama took Onondaga County by a similar margin in the 2008 election — both Maffei and Stirpe lost those seats in the 2010 elections to Buerkle and Miller, respectively. So what made voters change their minds? What made these two candidates, as one politician at the Democrats’ Election Night celebration put it, “Central New York’s Comeback Kids”?
The images of the devastated Jersey Shore are haunting, particularly for those with a lifetime of memories swept away by Hurricane Sandy. Among those are Jim Siciliano and his daughter Gabby, who moved to Manlius from Ocean Township, N.J., 12 years ago, when Gabby was in fifth grade.