Editor's Note: Fundraiser organizer Stacy Lane-Navarra announced that because of a bad weather report for Saturday, the fundraiser has been moved to June 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Main Street Firehouse in East Rockaway.
During most of his adult life, the late Keith Lane rarely left home without two things: a radio to stay connected to the Fire Department and his camera.
“He took a million pictures,” recalled his best friend, Peter Rapanaro. “He never didn’t have a camera.”
Though Lane died suddenly at age 53 in August 2016, his friends and family members said his legacy lives on in the many photos he has taken and in the memories of his heavy involvement in the community. In addition to volunteering for the East Rockaway and Oceanside fire departments for many years, Lane had a passion for photojournalism, filming and chasing stories.
As a way to honor his memory, his sister, Stacy Lane-Navarra, and the East Rockaway Board of Education created a scholarship in his name last year.
In June, the Keith Lane Visual & Media Arts Scholarship will be presented to an East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School student who plans to pursue a media or communications degree in college. Lane was passionate about storytelling, and lived out his dream when he became a cameraman for Fox 5 New York. Lane-Navarra said the scholarship was a way to keep her brother’s memory alive.
“This is all I ever wanted,” she said. “He will never be forgotten and these kids can hopefully learn and become as great as he was.”
To raise money for the scholarship, Lane-Navarra is hosting a fundraiser yard sale at the Main Street Firehouse, in East Rockaway, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Nassau County Firefighters Museum, which posthumously honored Lane in April 2017. Hundreds of people attended the inaugural fundraiser last year, where $6,000 was raised.
Lane’s passion for media began at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School. Rapanaro recounted that Lane would regularly shoot photos of him singing in productions at the school.
“It was terrific,” Rapanaro said. “Keith really, really pursued everything that he set out to do in his life and lived it fully. That’s why we have so many memories in so many photographs.”
Lane was heavily involved in high school activities, serving as class president, taking part in the annual Rock Rivalry competition, in which students put on skits and compete with other grade levels, and working with Rapanaro on the yearbook committee. Rapanaro said he and Lane were so invested that they once took a trip to Taylor Publishing, in Dallas, Texas, to see their yearbook being produced.
After graduating from East Rockaway in 1981, Lane worked as a cameraman for a small news station in Scranton, Pa. and eventually moved to News 12 Long Island before working behind the camera for Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” in 1988. He spent nearly three decades with Fox.
His dedication led to the scholarship’s creation, Lane-Navarra said. East Rockaway High Assistant Principal James DeTommaso will soon select three finalists, who will be tasked with writing essays. A committee comprised of Lane-Navarra, her daughter, Ashley Ruland; Lane-Navarra’s childhood friend Trish Apperlo; family friend Vivian Catrone; Channel 4 news reporter Katherine Creag; “Eyewitness News” editor Donna Hayes; and CNN senior photojournalist Walter Imparato will then decide who will receive the honor.
Mike Saporito was the inaugural winner of the scholarship last year. Saporito said he knew nothing about Lane originally, but had to research him for his essay to describe who he was, and became enamored with him. “I want to be like him,” Saporito said. “If there is any way to follow his legacy, I would do it. He loved East Rockaway and so do I.”
Saporito said he is studying communications at Nassau Community College and that as a big hockey fan, he hopes to one day be in front of the camera analyzing the National Hockey League.
Lane covered the NHL for Fox and even worked the finals of the Stanley Cup. As a cameraman, he covered World Series games, wars and natural disasters. He won an Emmy for his coverage at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Much like Lane, Saporito also got involved in Rock Rivalry and shot a documentary about it, chronicling everything from the preparation for the event through the night of the competition. He filmed from January to March 2017, and the final project was showcased at a film festival in Bellmore.
With the next winner to soon be announced, Lane-Navarra said, a lot of people have pitched in to help organize the fundraiser. Her boss at Lexus of RVC donated $500, community members have given money along with clothing, tools, golf clubs, furniture, custom jewelry, shoes, pocketbooks, toys and other items to be sold at the yard sale and the East Rockaway Fire Department offered the Main Street Firehouse for free.
Rapanaro said the fundraiser and scholarship go a long way in preserving Lane’s legacy. “It allows kids to strive to follow their dreams and follow their hearts,” he said. “Keith was all about East Rockaway and the Fire Department, and he lived his life through pictures. They say a picture says a thousand words, well they do for Keith, and so does the scholarship.”