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Center for kids with cancer marks 10 years with expansion announcement
The Hicksville-based Morgan Center, believed to be the first preschool in the country for children fighting cancer, will celebrate its 10th anniversary today by announcing plans for a second facility in Islip Terrace followed by others across the country.
The announcement will be made at the nonprofit’s headquarters for the past three years, Oyster Bay Town’s Hicksville Athletic Center.
The center was created by Nancy and Rod Zuch of Bay Shore and named for their daughter Morgan, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2 and is now a 15-year-old Bay Shore High School sophomore honor student and athlete who is cancer-free after two and a half years of chemotherapy.
Rod Zuch, the organization’s volunteer president, said the center has served almost 200 children from Queens, Nassau and Suffolk in its first decade.
“This facility will ultimately help us reach more children on Long Island, particularly those who live farther east,” Zuch said of the Islip Terrace facility he expects to open by the year’s end.
The center received a gift almost two years ago of a two-story building at 111 Carlton Ave. in Islip Terrace from a group of doctors, the Island Surgical and Vascular Group, which has relocated to Bay Shore.
Zuch said the renovations are almost complete. All the labor and materials were donated, including help from the carpenters’ and plumbers’ unions and contractors.
The new Morgan Center of Suffolk County will have program space for children on the first floor. The second floor will be the office for an offshoot group the Zuchs formed a year and a half ago, the National Early Childhood Cancer Foundation, “to take the concept national” with a network of centers.
“We’re addressing the need in New York but no one was addressing it across the country,” Zuch said. “We hope people will join us and help us continue to make a difference in the lives of young children battling cancer. Thousands of other kids across the country need this.”
The center raises more than $250,000 a year through private donations and fundraising activities so there is no cost for the families of the children who attend.