Fashion Show Benefits Fay Fund

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When Pennie Fay’s teenage son, Stephen, was killed a day shy of his 20th birthday in a vehicular accident in 2012, her world was torn apart. Pennie’s grief turned to anger when she learned that the truck driver that cut Stephen off on his motorcycle had a suspended license.

“I was very upset that this guy was charged with a misdemeanor. This person killed him, he had a history of being in and out of the criminal justice system and my son was at no fault,” Pennie said.

Stephen Fay
Stephen Fay

Seeking to make sure no one suffered the same injustice, Pennie founded the Stephen Joseph Fay Fund. Her mission is to see the adoption of Stephen’s Law, which is currently waiting to go before the NY State Assembly.

Stephen’s Law seeks to have drivers with a suspended or no license that cause an accident resulting in bodily injury or fatality charged with a felony, in lieu of a misdemeanor. Pennie says it’s just common sense to pass this law.

“In my mind, it’s second degree murder because when you have a suspended license or are unlicensed you know you might hurt someone. Your car is a weapon,” says Pennie.

She wants this law passed not only in New York, but nationwide.

“My hope is that people will think before they get into a vehicle when they’re unlicensed or have a suspended license. And that there will be ramifications, because right now there are no penalties for it,” says Pennie. “You have to be a repeat offender to have your license suspended and how many warnings do you need? If you hurt someone there has to be a penalty.”

Carle Place teacher Maddalena Buffalino was the senior class advisor of 2010 (Stephen’s graduating year) and had him in her class when he was a freshman. As the school’s Key Club Advisor, she helps students plan an annual fashion show that benefits a local charity. Proceeds from this year’s show will go toward the Stephen Joseph Fay Fund.

Buffalino remembers Stephen for his bold personality, and says this show will be a celebration of Stephen’s life.

“It’s a really great thing that ties in the current senior class with alumni and other kids who were friends with him,” says Buffalino. “It’s a great way for the kids to understand how you have to value life and not take things for granted. It’s hard for them to understand that as a high school student, but seeing someone who was so young has impacted them greatly.” 

The fashion show also marks the first night of filming for a documentary about Stephen’s life. Pennie, who is an actress, put out a message asking if anyone would be interested in doing a PSA for social media. The response was overwhelming, and director Wendy Shear came forward with a full production team saying she wanted to not just do a PSA, but a full documentary on Stephen’s life, the accident and the fund.

“There’s a lot to talk about,” says Pennie. “His life was snuffed out and he could have done wonderful things in this world. He’s the kind of kid every parent dreams of having.”

The fashion show takes place Friday, April 25 at 7 p.m. in the Carle Place High School Auditorium. There’s a minimum $5 donation for tickets, which go on sale at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby before the show. To find out more about the Stephen Joseph Fay Fund, visit www.stephensfund.org

By Betsy Abraham
babraham@antonnews.com

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