Many years ago, Tony Lubrano’s father-in-law, Solomon was diagnosed with lymphoma and lost his battle in just only four months. Not too long after, Lubrano’s father, Pasquale, was diagnosed with leukemia and doctors told him he had less than a year to live. But thanks to experimental drugs and testing, Lubrano’s father lived for another 15 years. After the passing of both his father-in-law and father to these cancers, Lubrano decided that he had a bill to pay—a bill that would be worth a million dollars.
“My father benefited from someone who came long before me, who raised money for research and paid for those years that my dad received,” said Lubrano who is the president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce and owner of the restaurant Piccola Bussola. “My father-in-law wasn’t as fortunate enough.”
Originally, the objective of Night on the Town—which was run by Harry Zapiti—was to raise money for St. Aidan and Corpus Christi. But when Corpus Christi closed their elementary school, Night on the Town slowly went away. However, after hearing about Lubrano’s initiative to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, Zapiti and Lubrano teamed up and brought back Night on the Town to Mineola to raise money for the society.
At this year’s Night on the Town, 25 different restaurants across Long Island and New York City participated and offered their services. Some of those restaurants included: Piccola Bussola, Jericho Terrace, Chris and Tony’s, Piccolo’s, Ballast Point Brewery, Enzitto’s Bakery, Full House Organic, Hush Bistro, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Uncle Bacala’s, Vincent’s Clam Bar, Andrea’s 25 and Becco.
New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band, a 23-piece swing orchestra provided some of the entertainment for the evening.
“The very first year, we made a grand total of $20,000 and thought that was a lot of money,” explained Lubrano. “I really thought that this would be something we probably wouldn’t achieve in my lifetime and I would have to rely on my kids to finish this for me after I was gone. But we have been blessed by truly amazing people who joined our cause and our fight.”
Due to Lubrano’s organization Warriors For A Cause and local community members, Night on the Town grew more popular with more and more money being raised for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society each year. Before this year’s event, Lubrano and company raised $771,000.
Each year, the event asks an honoree to join the cause to bring people, awareness and most importantly money to the event, by asking their friends to make a donation in their name. This year’s honorees were Marc and Shari Weissbach who stepped up to the plate and helped raise more than $250,000.
“Right now, we raised $320,000 for that night which is a number that I couldn’t even dream of,” Lubrano said. “I still have to pinch myself because I can’t believe how blessed we all are with these circle of people who have done the amazing heavy lifting.”
Even though checks are still trickling in from the event, Lubrano has managed to surpass his $1 million goal, raising $1,091,000 in total.
“On Friday morning [after each year’s event], I go to the cemetery and I let my dad know how much we raised in his memory and now I can tell him that he can rest now because the bill has been paid,” said Lubrano.
Lubrano’s work isn’t over yet. When the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society first started 70 years ago, a child that was diagnosed with leukemia had a 3 percent chance of survival. When Lubrano first became involved 10 years ago, the number rose to 67 percent survival rate due to money being raised.
“The real progress has been in the last 10 years. A child diagnosed with leukemia today has a 92 percent chance of surviving. That’s amazing progress due to the money raised,” explained Lubrano. “We’re so close to finding a cure. A million dollars is a nice milestone but the real goal is going to be what happens to that eight percent. That’s what we all strive for now. It’s to tell every parent whose child gets that diagnosis to not worry, everything is going to be OK.”