Bethpage Community ‘Sticks it to Cancer’

Bethpage Community ‘Sticks it to Cancer’ photo

It was far from a normal night of hockey at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Rink in Bethpage, as four local teams came together for a “Stick it to Cancer” fundraiser to raise money for Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Dec. 19.

The first game featured Port Washington/Great Neck/Herricks vs. Farmingdale, while the nightcap included Bethpage hosting Oceanside. Hockey was surely the backstory in what was an emotional evening for those in attendance. The fundraiser touched close to home, as Bethpage High School junior and hockey player Derek Zacchino has been battling a brain tumor since being diagnosed in September. While Zacchino was hoping to be well enough to participate in the puck drop at the beginning of the game, he got better news than he could imagine, as he was cleared to play in the game the morning of Dec. 19.

“I just couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t be happier,” Zacchino said. “I am so excited to be out there with my teammates.”

Prior to the game, guest speakers included Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Superintendent of Schools David Schneider. Syosset Hockey presented Zacchino with a signed jersey by former New York Islander Pat LaFontaine. Zacchino’s girlfriend and fellow Bethpage High School student Bridget Pfeifer performed the national anthem. 

"Thank you to everyone who is here to support such a wonderful cause," Schneider said. "I couldn't be prouder of our staff members who planned and organized this fantastic event and our entire community who eagerly participated in order to raise money and awareness for the great work [Cohen Children's Medical Center] does for our children."

Outside the rink, volunteers sold T-shirts, sweatshirts, cupcakes and raffle tickets to collect money for the cause. All in all, the event raised more than $16,000 to be donated to Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

To cap things off, Schneider announced that the Bethpage Hockey Team won first place in the Team Up 4 Community Service Challenge for the hockey game initiative, which drew a monstrous ovation from the crowd. On the ice, Bethpage prevailed against Oceanside with a 4-3 victory.

“The highlight of the evening was watching Derek join his teammates on the ice as his last minute clearance from his doctor allowed him to play in his first game since his diagnosis and surgery,” Schneider added. “To see the joy on his face as he was introduced to the standing room only crowd was something I will always remember”

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