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Coney Island goes gold for kids with cancer

Coney Island Councilmember Mark Treyger wants kids with cancer – and their families – to know that he and the rest of the borough have got their backs.

Spurred on by the Empire State Building’s recent refusal to light gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the councilmember gathered amongst local residents, colleagues in government and representatives of Luna Park owner Zamperla to light the 75-year-old Coney Island Parachute Jump gold on Friday, September 5 as part of The Gold World Project, founded by New Hampshire resident Tony Stoddard who lost his five-year-old son Cole to Neuroblastoma in 2012.

“This was the very least we could do,” said Treyger, who arranged with Zamperla to light the jump not just for the night but for the entire week in the name of childhood cancer awareness. “It was a beautiful event, but it was really heartbreaking to listen to the stories of what these parents have to go through, and the choices they have to make for their children.”

Parents on deck for the lighting included Enza Boccuzzi, founder of the Olivia Boccuzzi Foundation and mother of Olivia Boccuzzi, who was just three years old when she lost her battle with a PNET brainstem tumor; Camille Loccisano, founder of Frankie’s Mission and mother of Francesco Loccisano, who succumbed to both bone cancer and leukemia shortly after his 17th birthday; and Matt Kabel, a Bay Ridge resident and father of three, including 21-month-old Sally who is currently fighting a rare form of infant leukemia.

“As parents of a sixth-generation Brooklynite battling infant leukemia, we are beyond excited to see one of our borough’s most iconic structures light gold for the 40,000 kids currently battling cancer,” said Kabel. “Nothing has ever made us prouder of calling Brooklyn our home than seeing the Parachute Drop lit gold, not only in support of kids like Sally battling childhood cancers, but the seven children who die from it daily.”

“I just want the families to know that they are not alone in this, and that they have a lot of people in the community on their side,” said Treyger, stressing the importance of research and, subsequently, the importance of funding. “I think this was a message of solidarity and I am very proud of our neighborhood for stepping up.”

The Gold World Project, though well received by landmarks across the country, was turned down by the Empire State Building’s owners who refused to light the 103-story skyscraper and hastily removed Facebook posts from parents begging them to reconsider, including a photo of little Sally Kabel posted by father, Matt, sparking controversy and leaving local pols to take matters into their own hands.

“When the Empire State Building said no, Coney Island said yes,” said Treyger, thanking Zamperla for “immediately” agreeing to his request and going “above and beyond” for these children, their families and this cause. “We just want these families to know that we have their back and that we are with them 100 percent of the way.”

““Thank you for caring, thank you for going gold, thank you for helping me keep my promise to my son Cole,” said Stoddard. “Something big is happening.”

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