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Strength, from sorrow

Three families find new purpose after tragic losses

by Mary Beth Casper, Newsday, 11/28/04

They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Their lives were touched by tragedy, yet each went on to turn their grief around to help others. They started nonprofit foundations to find meaning in their losses. They run the organizations, most of them on their own time without pay.


The Guardian Brain Foundation
P.O. Box 20219, Huntington Station, NY 11746
Mary Pallotta began the foundation two years ago to honor the memory of her brother, Dennis Pitti, who died in 1999 at age 43 of brain cancer in Tampa.  The foundation raises money for neurological research and funds quality of life and support programs for brain tumor patients.  Often, the foundation helps fund transportation costs for those Long Islanders seeking medical treatments out of state.

Tuesday’s Children
390 Plandome Road #204
Manhasset, NY 11030
Former Wall Street executive Christopher Burke of Manhasset launched this organization shortly after losing his brother, Thomas Burke, at age 38 on Sept. 11, 2001 Thomas Burke, the father of four sons, worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center.  The organization offers emotional support, educational assistance and mentoring programs to any child who lost a parent on Sept. 11.  Programs are also available for adults who lost loved ones in the terror attacks.

The Craig Grumet Memorial Fund
c/o The Wheatley School
11 Bacon Rd.
Old Westbury, NY 11568
Craig Grumet was a junior and a star soccer player at The Wheatley School in Old Westbury.  He lost his life in a car accident at age 17 last spring.  His parents, Marc and Virginia Grumet, have begun to raise money for programs dear to the heart of their only child.  The Memorial Fund will provide educational and sleep-away camp scholarships to deserving Long Island youth.  “Craig was the most compassionate person.  He made friends wherever he went,” Marc Grumet said.

Project to Cure
Donations should be made out to:
North Shore-LIJ Health System Foundation and earmarked for Project to Cure
125 Community Dr.
Great Neck, NY 11021

For details: e-mail ahirsch@milbrookproperties.com

Andrea and Charles Hirsch of Dix Hills started this fund to provide money for research for pediatric patients suffering from medulla blastoma, a malignant type of brain tumor.  The Hhschs’ 8-year-old son, whose name they wish to keep private, has been treated for a different form of brain tumor.  Grateful that research was already in place to provide treatment options for the disease that befell their child, the couple hopes to help other parents by raising money for medulla blastoma, which Andrea said makes up 20 percent of all pediatric brain tumors.

Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation
30 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10016

The late Lauri Strauss had joy for life, according to her parents. Herbert and Evelyn Strauss of Port Washington.  “She lit up whatever room she walked into,” her father said. Lauri was diagnosed with leukemia in 1984 when she was 26.  She passed away a few months later after turning 27.  Her parents started the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation in 1989.  Their fund-raising has since procured $3 million in discovery grants for leukemia research.  The foundation’s annual benefit concert at Carnegie Hall has featured top names from the musical world.  This year’s Nov. 8 concert featured Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops, Judy Collins and Alfred Molina.