YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Support Connection has raised millions and helped thousands deal with their cancer diagnoses since launching a little more than two decades ago, but the success of the Yorktown-based non-profit organization would not be possible without the donors and supporters who helped get it off the ground in its early years.
Two of those people are Yorktown residents Eric and Elizabeth DiBartolo, who will be awarded with the organization’s Spirit of Philanthropy Award at its Spring Benefit on Friday, April 7, at Villa Barone Hilltop Manor in Mahopac.
The award will be handed out as part of Support Connection’s Spirit Awards, which are given each year to honor those who demonstrate dedication to the organization’s mission by providing inspiration, time, talent and other resources.
Eric, a former highway superintendent for the town of Yorktown and chief of the Yorktown Heights Volunteer Fire Department, is currently president of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce. He is also a co-owner of Yorktown Funeral Home, which has been a sponsor of the organization’s annual Support-A-Walk since the beginning.
Elizabeth is owner of Euro Laser Spa in Rye, where, for the past two years, she has hosted a fundraising event called “Brave and Beautiful.” More than $4,000 has been raised at the event for Support Connection.
“By donating to Support Connection and hosting benefit events on our behalf, Elizabeth and Eric’s generosity has translated into raising awareness as well as money to fund our programs and services,” the organization said. “Elizabeth and Eric are gifts to Support Connection and the entire community.”
Eric said supporting Support Connection was an easy decision to make. In addition to having a “soft spot” in his heart for people with cancer, he said, meeting Support Connection’s generous staff sealed the deal. DiBartolo especially praised Kathy Quinn, who has been the organization’s executive director since its inception in 1996.
“We met her, my wife and I, and it just clicked,” Eric said. “She’s such a warm, warm person. They do so much for the residents of Yorktown.”
When Support Connection first opened its doors in July 1996, it began with just two breast and ovarian cancer support groups. Over the years, their services expanded to meet the growing and changing needs of those they serve. They now have a staff of professional peer counselors—cancer survivors themselves, who provide one-on-one education and support. Its toll-free telephone services enables them to help people across the country. The organization offers 11 different support groups, two by national toll-free teleconference, as well as a year-round calendar of programs in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
Eric said he unfortunately knows too many people who have needed Support Connection’s services. But those who have used them, he said, always speak glowingly about the organization.
Eric’s brother, Frank DiBartolo Jr., died from complications from cancer nine years ago.
“Cancer affects everybody,” DiBartolo said. “It doesn’t matter; race, creed, color. They’re just a phenomenal local organization.”
Though he is named as a co-recipient of the award, Eric said the award belongs entirely to his wife, Elizabeth.
“My wife is just an incredible giver,” Eric said. “She believes like I believe, that when you give, you get it back. She has been so pro-Support Connection for many, many years. The award’s going to her, not me.”
Eric said his wife, who is usually reserved, was brought to tears when she learned she would be receiving the award.
“She was really, really touched by that,” he said.
Other Spirit Awards recipients are: Ginny Allison-Novotny of Katonah and Dottie McHugh of Purdys, Spirit of Hope Award; Jane Crossley and Valerie Peyronnet of Putnam Valley, Spirit of Giving Award; Chereese Jervis-Hill of Cortlandt Manor, Maria Rubino Jennings Spirit of Caring Award; and Gary Wawrzycki of Garrison, Spirit of Community Award.
The Spring Benefit is Support Connection’s second most important annual fundraiser. Proceeds help fund its free breast and ovarian cancer support services and programs. The event begins with a cocktail reception at 7 p.m., followed by dinner, music, and dancing until 11:30 p.m.
In addition to the award presentation, there will also be a silent auction and raffles with numerous valuable prizes. To purchase tickets for the Spring Benefit, to pay tribute with a congratulatory journal ad, or to be an event sponsor, call 914-962-6402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more, visit supportconnection.org/spring-benefit.