Ladies Night event in Island Park fights breast cancer

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As Breast Cancer Awareness Month approached its end, the Maurer Foundation for Breast Health Education hosted a special Ladies Night event in Island Park to promote awareness and raise money to fight the deadly disease.

“One of the things we say to people is breast cancer doesn’t just happen in October,” said Susan Samaroo, the executive director of the Maurer Foundation, a breast cancer awareness nonprofit that focuses much of its outreach on Oceanside High School students. “It’s great to have a month for the awareness and getting the information and education out there, but we need to do it all the time and it’s fundraisers like this that allow us to continue doing our education for high school students throughout Long Island.”

The foundation partnered with Costello’s Ace Hardware to host the fundraiser at five different store locations. On Oct. 24, the event came to Island Park’s store, at 3965 Long Beach Road. During Ladies Night, customers who donated $5 to the foundation received 20 percent off their purchase.

At the event, dozens of raffle baskets and gift bags lined tables, which were decorated with pink tablecloths. Customers were invited to drink glasses of wine, eat grilled treats and other snacks, and attend vendor demonstrations for home-improvement projects.

Samaroo, of Oceanside, said she was grateful to partner with a local business to help the cause. “We’re very grateful as a local breast cancer organization to partner with a store as great as this,” she said. “A neighborhood place.” The amount of funds raised was not tallied as of press time.

About 50 people attended the event and had the opportunity to learn more about the foundation, which organizes breast cancer education programs at local school, university and corporate locations, providing vital information on how to reduce the risk for breast cancer as well as the most effective methods for early detection. According to the foundation’s website, it has reached 348,185 high school and college students, parents and neighbors.

One Ace employee who requested to remain anonymous said she is a breast cancer survivor and noted that events like Ladies Night are vital in spreading awareness. “It’s important to check yourself for lumps,” she said. “We all wash ourselves and there’s no reason you can’t inspect yourself.”

Samaroo said she spoke with a mother and daughter who were both battling breast cancer, and added that she hoped the event would encourage more people to get screened.

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, behind lung cancer, and the second-most-common form of cancer among women, behind skin cancer. Breast cancer occurs when cells grow beyond their normal bounds. The cancer can then spread through the blood or lymph systems to other parts of the body. The average age of diagnosis for breast cancer is 62, though experts recommend that women begin having annual mammograms at age 45, and as early as 40 for women with histories of breast cancer in their families.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 41,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2018 in the United States. Roughly 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the illness in their lifetime.

Men can develop breast cancer as well, though their risk is far smaller, about 1 in 1,000. Less than 1 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men, but according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, there will be about 2,550 new cases among men in the United States this year, and roughly 480 deaths.

Robert Feller, the vice president of sales and marketing for Ace, said he hoped the event would bring the community together. He added that he wanted to make it an annual event and for all Ace stores to host many more community outings in the future.

“I go around and tell the store managers, these stores are not your stores,” Feller said. “They belong to the neighborhood. They belong to the community. Let people use your footprint for whatever they want to do.”

The Island Park Ace is one of 30 stores owned by Mike Costello, who runs 23 of them on Long Island. There are 5,000 family-owned and operated stores in the country, and Feller said events like Ladies Night bring about a sense of community. “We just want to do some good,” he said.

To learn more or donate to the foundation, visit bit.ly/2CLJlLI.