When Xaverian High School student Francesco Loccisano was 14 years old, he was diagnosed with bone cancer and leukemia. Described as a stoic fighter by those who stood by as he withstood invasive treatments and surgery upon surgery, Loccisano always admired the good in people, according to his mother Camille.
My son loved a good person, she said. When there was a good person, helping other people and doing the right thing, he loved that.
Loccisano died three years later, on September 14, 2007, nearly two weeks after his 17th birthday. But his mother was determined that his caring spirit live on. One month later, Camille Loccisano brought together her sons friends and family to start a charity organization in his honor. The Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation — also known as Frankies Mission, from the teens nickname — was born.
On March 9, at a fundraiser at Dyker Beach Golf Course, 1020 86th Street, the organization unveiled its first-ever list of Frankies Heroes 12 children and teens honored for their work inspiring others and improving their community. Awards for the honorees will be given out at a ceremony at noon on Saturday, March 24, at the same location.
The honorees are Soumik Barua, Margaret Basti, Matthew Bramante, Hannah Ceretti, Billy Comis, Michelle Del Pin, Althea Ebenezer, Anthony Romano, Nicolas Russo, Annaliese Tucci, Katie Weinstein and Angela Zeck.
Bramante, honored for helping to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society, says he is proud to be associated with a former Xaverian student, particularly one whose legacy he admires so much.
Its just a tremendous honor to follow in the footsteps of Frankie, he said. He went to my school and was such a great kid, that it just feels amazing to be honored in the same category as him for all the things that he did.
Although Bramante is only 15 years old, he has been raising money to fight cancer for more than seven years. He describes a personal drive to help the less fortunate as what keeps him going. I find myself pushing through to go to the community service instead of having fun, he said, because I know thats what I have to do, and its a commitment.
Comis was singled out for his actions on December 23, 2008. When a 55-year-old neighbor suffered a heart attack on the street in front of his apartment, Comis sprang into action, calling 911 and staying with him until the paramedics arrived.
Although the neighbor died three years later as a result of his heart condition, his wife Linda Mollo-Holmes cannot stress how important those final months with her late husband were, and who she has to thank for them.
I consider him a son, honestly, Mollo-Holmes said of Comis. He saved my husband for 27 months.
Comis, who was 12 at the time, is proud of what he did that day.
It feels good knowing I stood there and helped a friend, he said.
Like the other honorees, Comis has a promising future, according to State Senator Marty Golden, in attendance to support Loccisano, whom he remembers visiting in the hospital.
When you see people who have this kind of dedication so early in life, it says something, Golden said.