To carry on the goals of its namesake, on Friday October 30, Frankie’s Mission hosted its 2015 Hopefest Harvest Gala.
The organization — created in honor of Francesco “Frankie” Loccisano, a teenage boy who was diagnosed with bone cancer and leukemia at age 14, dying shortly after his 17th birthday — has as its stated goal providing assistance to families struck by pediatric cancer, something that was near and dear to Frankie’s heart.
Camille Loccisano, Frankie’s mom and president/founder of Frankie’s Mission, was enthusiastic about the event, held at Gargiulo’s, 2911 West 15th Street, noting, “The atmosphere was filled with a magical love.” With hundreds of people in attendance, she said, the evening was “a tremendous night of celebrating” those who have showed support for the work of the organization over the years.
The true stars of the night, however, were the honorees who included Domenick Cama, president of Investors Bank, who Loccisano recalls has been “an ongoing support” to the group. Investors Bank recently awarded the organization with a $55,000 check to assist in the development of a new program supporting hospitals that treat childhood cancer, said Loccisano.
John Manning of John Manning Mortgage Brokers was also honored that evening, with Loccisano calling him, “a constant, kind, giving person,” who gets involved in many charitable endeavors, including Project Hope, which reaches out to children suffering from cancer during the holidays.
Police Officer P.J. Conley from the NYPD’s 19th precinct was another honoree. He came to Loccisano’s notice after he helped a mom and her child at a Ronald McDonald House event. Their car had been towed, leaving the mother unable to get her child to his chemotherapy appointment on time. Conley paid for the car’s return and for a cab to bring the mom and child to the hospital in time for his treatment.
The final honoree was Maggie Kelly, a childhood cancer survivor from Belle Harbor who received the Michele Grace Marciano Award of Hope. Diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at 11 months old, according to Loccisano, she is deemed “a miracle,” by her parents. Michele Grace Marciano, the award’s namesake, died as a young child from a severe blood illness and this award was granted in her honor to Kelly, said Loccisano, because she is a “hope and inspiration to others after dealing with such a severe illness,”
Billy Kelly, Maggie’s father, said that he and his family “expected a great night, but were overwhelmed at how big a night it was.” After extensive treatment and an eight-hour surgery, Maggie is now nine years old, he said, and has shown no evidence of the disease for the past seven years,
Since its 2007 inception, Frankie’s Mission has helped hundreds of families, Loccisano said, as it strives to fulfill Frankie’s wish of helping other kids going through similar situations.
In so doing, Loccisano said, her own grief is eased. “It helps heal the soul. My son was definitely there in spirit, smiling down on us.”