Annual event returns to raise money for cancer research
When Tony Lubrano set out to raise $1 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society eight years ago, he figured it was a goal that would take him the rest of his life to accomplish. But it turns out that hitting that benchmark might happen a lot sooner than he anticipated.
“I’m probably going to get it done in a year or two,” said Lubrano. “I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by people who have been very helpful.”
Hitting that million-dollar benchmark has a very personal attachment for Lubrano, who lost his father to leukemia in 2006. He said experimental drugs extended his father’s life for 15 years after his initial diagnosis, allowing him the opportunity to meet all eight of his grandchildren.
“I figured someone came long before me and paid a whole lot of money to give me 15 years with my dad,” Lubrano said. “I want to pay that bill off.”
But raising $1 million is no small feat. In 2011, Lubrano, owner of Piccola Bussola in Mineola, and his friend Harry Zapiti launched Night on the Town, a fundraising event that brought local restaurants together to sample their fares for hungry guests, who could also bid on raffle items. The event did well and became an annual affair, raking in $72,000 their best year. But then in 2015, LLS got involved.
“They were able to help us bring the event to a whole other level,” Lubrano said. “It used to be a two-man show but when LLS got involved, they look at it as a yearlong project. It’s much easier because there’s so many people involved.”
At this year’s event on April 6 at Jericho Terrace, Lubrano hopes to raise $150-$160,000, an achievable increase from last year’s total of $137,000. He noted that in donations alone, the event has already raised close to $70,000, an amount that will only go up once ticket sales and raffles (the latter of which raised $20,000 alone last year) are added in.
This year’s event will honor Kevin Lalezarian from Lalezarian Properties, the developer of the One Third Avenue and Village Green projects. Lubrano notes that Lalezarian has always been a generous supporter of Night on the Town, donating $5,000 towards the cause in prior years. This year, he donated $10,000 to the cause, as well as encouraged TD Bank to donate $10,000 and PC Richards to give $5,000.
“He has been tremendous,” said Lubrano. “He’s not shy about encouraging his friends to support this event, which has been a godsend for us.”
When: Thursday, April 6; 7 to 11 p.m.
Where: Jericho Terrace
Tickets: $125, limited number of $25 tickets available for Mineola seniors
Guests at Night on the Town will enjoy what Lubrano says is a “four hour cocktail party,” with an open bar and samplings from nearly 30 New York City and Long Island restaurants. Paul Doyle, co-owner of Roast Sandwich House, said he is looking forward to offering paninis and salads at the event.
“We try to get embedded in the community as much as we can,” Doyle said. “When people reach out and say they need a helping hand, we’re always happy to contribute. It’s good for people, good for the cause, and it gives us an opportunity to give back to the patrons who support us.”
As guests mill around Jericho Terrace, enjoying the products from different restaurants, they can also bid on raffles and enjoy music from New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band, as well as a DJ.
Ed DeCorsia, band leader of New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band, said that the ensemble has been performing for Night on the Town since 2007 because they have always been passionate about supporting cancer causes.
“Cancer benefits are all worthy causes that New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band will always support when we are able to,” said DeCorsia, adding that guests can expect the ensemble to play a wide range of music. “We always pay homage to Swing and American standards, but we also provide an eclectic blend of musical offering to include rock, pop and funk as well. It is not uncommon for us to perform Sinatra and Bublé one moment and Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars the next.”
Because most of the vendors provide their goods as a donation, the majority of the proceeds go towards the LLS. Tickets for the event are $125 and can be purchased online at http://events.lls.org/pages/li/nightonthetown17. Senior tickets are also available to Mineola residents for $25, and can be purchased by calling Lubrano at 516-316-9271 or going to Piccola Bussola (bring proof of Mineola residence).