High society met charity last week as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) held its annual Night on the Town event at the swanky Jericho Terrace in Mineola to raise funds in the fight against blood cancer.
A lavish affair featuring lush, sumptuous cuisine donated by 20 top Long Island and Manhattan restaurants in a buffet-style setting, Night on the Town packed more than 500 attendees into Jericho Terrace to enjoy a delectable atmosphere of fine dining accentuated by the smooth sounds of swing belted out by The World’s Most Dangerous Big Band.
Tony Lubrano—co-founder of Night on the Town—knows all too well the devastating effects of leukemia. Years ago, his father Pasquale was diagnosed with the malady and was given just 18 months to live, but when he went to Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital for a second opinion, doctors suggested experimental new medicines. Pasquale agreed to try it and ended up extending his original prognosis to an astonishing 15 years before passing.
“When he was first diagnosed with leukemia, he didn’t have any grandchildren…before he died, all eight of his grandkids got to meet him,” Lubrano said. “I figured that someone came long before me and raised a whole lot of money for research to pay for those 15 years I got, so years ago I went to LLS and told them that I have a bill to pay. I can’t put a price on 15 years, but I wanted to start with $1 million.”
Looking for the right event to utilize as a fundraiser, Lubrano looked up old friend Harry Zapiti, who had originally created Night on the Town to assist a local church’s school. The event had ceased when the school shut down, but the two decided to revive it six years ago to benefit LLS. And Lubrano, who himself owns restaurants in Glen Cove, Mineola and Huntington, is always amongst the eateries that provide their fare at the event.
Sara Lipsky, executive director of the Long Island chapter of LLS, got involved in running Night on the Town two years ago, teaming up with Lubrano and Zapiti to drive the charitable endeavor into the stratosphere.
“Tony invited me to attend Night on the Town, and I was amazed by how one person could make such a large impact. There were hundreds of people there raising a significant amount of money, and I knew this was something LLS had to get involved in,” she said. “Funds raised at events like this go towards research so that one day we can cut this disease once and for all.”
This year, LLS is anticipating generating a record $120,000 through the event via admission and raffle prizes provided by local businesses and benefactors. Lubrano said that before LLS’s involvement and the benefit of their expertise in running large events, the most Night on the Town had generated in a single year was $72,000.
And since everything is donated and the people running the event volunteer their time, Lubrano noted that almost every dime they make goes directly to LLS and its vital cancer research. In fact, when paying, attendees are told to write their checks out directly to LLS to show exactly where the money is going.
For Lubrano, the memory of his father’s unfortunate passing fuels a force to help many others also facing blood cancer, which makes each year of a Night on the Town a truly bittersweet endeavor, he said.
“What I do every year after Night on the Town is go to the cemetery and let my father know how much I’ve raised in his memory, and how much closer I’m getting to that goal of $1 million,” Lubrano said. “Now that LLS has partnered up with Harry and I, it’s cool to see how the event has grown even more. Our baby grew up and soon I’m going to have to extend my goal past $1 million.”