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Two Residents Step Up To Raise Money for Cancer Research

Both have committed to raising at least $20,000 in 10 weeks.

The fervent wish to find a cure for blood cancers has two local residents on a mission to raise funds.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Long Island Chapter recently announced two candidates for their 2012 Man & Woman of the Year campaign, an effort aimed at raising awareness and funds.

Candidates commit to raising a minimum of $20,000 over a 10-week period that kicked off on April 5.

Flanders resident Richard Zbikowski first became involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Long Island when he participated for 7 years in the “Light the Night” program, an event where volunteers walk to raise funds and candles are illuminated in memory of lost loved ones.

Zbikowski also has sold tickets for a number of fundraisers; he chose to take his dedication to the next level and sign on to be a candidate in the Man & Woman of the Year Campaign.

Funds raised are used for blood cancer research; financial assistance for patients with expenses such as medication, testing, and transportation; education; support groups and counseling; and other initiatives.

“Knowing how people and their families are affected by blood cancers, I just wanted to help all people live a healthier and longer life and enjoy their lives to the fullest extent,” Zbikowski said.

Also nominated this year is Sound Beach resident Cindy Aronstam. Aronstam said her mission is motivated by personal loss. Her father died of pancreatic cancer at 51; her mother beat thyroid cancer at 47. In addition, a close friend battled and survived ovarian cancer at 41. Aronstam said she was touched by others, including a friend’s mother who had breast cancer  -- and by a little boy who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 22 months old. He is now 4 years old and will complete treatment in July.

Aronstam, who recently turned 35, said, “I wanted to do something big for someone else.” Nominated for the campaign, her personal goal is to raise $100,000, an amount she admits is ambitious. “I like to aim high,” she said. “I’m grateful for every dollar that is donated. If everyone does a little, we can really make a difference.”

Aronstam said she’s thankful to the in Riverhead, where she plans to host a “Fashion for A Cure” fashion show fundraiser on Thursday, May 3. Audio Visual Entertainmant are donating a DJ and Motisi Photography are also donating services.

One client, she said, gave her valuable advice that she has hung up and reads daily: “Just remember, even if you don’t reach your goal, like a marathon race, the reward is in the journey and finishing the race, not breaking tape."

For more information on how to  support Zbikowski in his “Man & Woman of the Year” campaign, visit www.mwoy.org/li. To support Aronstam, go to http://li.mwoysuffolk.llsevent.org/Purpose.

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