Nancy Mariano knows full well the challenges that face a family when caring for a seriously ill child. In 1987, her son Jason was diagnosed with leukemia.
She also knows how much it helps when a community rallies to offer comfort and support during an unimaginably difficult time. All those years ago, parents, students, faculty and staff from the banded together to put on a benefit called, “A Night for Jason” in honor of her son.
Twenty-five years later, , a charity that offers emotional, financial and advocacy support for thousands of families in the tri-state area with children who have been diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. And 25 years later, is still being held every year, now in support of Friends of Karen.
“It’s a wonderful celebration about a community who cares,” said Mariano in a recent phone interview.
She described how the community came together when her son became ill. She had one child in Comsewogue high school at the time and the school put on the entire show.
“They did everything from lights and sounds to printing tickets and programs,” she said. “It’s a fabulous community event.”
Mariano launched the Port Jefferson chapter of ten years ago to help out families like her own. The charity helps relieve the financial burden on affected families by assisting with their bills so they can focus what’s important. Mariano noted that the stress on families goes beyond the hospital bed. Friends of Karen also supports family members through a network of social workers and recently hired a full support staff for siblings of ill children.
On Friday, March 9, the 25th Annual “A Night for Jason” will showcase a mix of talent in the community all in a continuing effort to support Friends of Karen’s mission. The student-run variety show will feature “pop songs, dance acts, martial arts displays and some good-old fashioned rock-n-roll guitar playing,” according to the organization.
To honor this milestone, emcees from past years are returning to be a part of the show.
"We’re having great fun, we’re really gearing up to celebrate this 25th anniversary,” said Dana Urbinati, a teacher at Comsewogue high school and coordinator of the event. "Along with the talents and energy of everyone involved, we want people to know that the funds raised are going to help some very special families in our communities.”
will be held Friday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15, $12 and $10. They can be purchased at the Comsewogue High School main office by calling (631) 474-8179 or at the door.