Ten years have past since Kim Pellizzi, of Seaford, lost her mother to lung cancer. It hasn’t gotten any easier.
“She was my best friend,” said Pellizzi, noting that she still gets teary-eyed when talking about her mother, Velma Orsini, who was 66. But Pellizzi has found a way to cope, by raising money to help others undergoing cancer treatment.
On Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m., Pellizzi, 53, and her family will hold their ninth annual Strike Out Cancer bowling event at East Meadow Lanes. Money raised will go to CancerCare for its upcoming Lung Cancer Walk for Hope.
CancerCare provides patients and their families with direct support, such as counseling services, financial assistance with medical costs, educational workshops, rides to medical appointments and more. Pellizzi noted that there are many organizations that raise money for cancer research, so there is a need for groups like CancerCare that provide direct benefits to people undergoing treatment. “I love that we’re doing something for families and the patients themselves,” she said.
Pellizzi, her husband, Jimmy, and her brother and sister-in-law, Frank and Janet Orsini, organize the bowling event every year. It started in 2007, with about 60 people attending and raising $3,500. Last year’s fundraiser drew more than 200 people and raised $21,000. Pellizzi said the goal is to at least match that, but she hopes to exceed it.
In eight years so far, the event has generated close to $100,000.
The cost is $60, which includes four hours of unlimited bowling, beer, wine, soda, a hot buffet, coffee and dessert. There will be a 50/50 drawing and numerous raffles. Prizes include gift baskets, tickets to sporting events and to the Seaford Cinemas, restaurant gift certificates, electronics and more.
“Kim is a powerful example of the remarkable positivity that could come from the very difficult experience of losing a loved one to cancer,” said Julia Volpin, director of special events for CancerCare. “The loss of her mother, as painful as it was and still is, has motivated her to keep her memory alive through the annual Strike Out Cancer event and its incredible support for the Lung Cancer Walk for Hope. Through this event, Kim has brought hope and comfort through her support for CancerCare’s Lung Cancer Program. We are so thankful for her kindness and dedication.”
The 13th annual Lung Cancer Walk will be held on Nov. 8 at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course in Woodbury, with more than 1,000 participants expected.
Pellizzi took part in the walk for the first time in 2004, when her mother was undergoing treatment. During an oncology appointment for her mother, she found out the walk would be 10 days later in the Hamptons, and teams were expected to raise $1,500. In two days, her husband and brother unexpectedly collected donations to reach that mark.
Her mother died in 2005, and she and her family members discussed ways they could give back to CancerCare, which supported Velma during her illness. They came up with the idea for the bowling event.
“It’s very satisfying, very fulfilling,” Pellizzi said, noting that the entire family, including her children, her nieces and nephews and their spouses, get involved to honor Velma. “Her spirit lives on through this.”
Pellizzi, who has lived in Seaford for 21 years and works in medical billing, added that her mother was a good-hearted person who “would give you the shirt off her back, would do anything for anyone.” Her mother loved butterflies, and the family’s team name for the walk is the Butterflies.
In the decade since she died, Pellizzi’s mother has missed numerous special occasions, from graduations to weddings, and in almost every instance Pellizzi has seen a butterfly, regardless of the season. It’s her symbol that her mother is there, telling them that everything is OK.
Pellizzi added that she is looking forward to a successful fundraiser on Saturday in celebration of her mother’s life. “This is what makes me get through the year,” she said, “knowing that we’re doing something for her.”