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Annual fundraising event to benefit two causes
When his brother Patrick Xavier died in 1997 from complications of Down syndrome, Alan Owens, 31, wanted to find a way to keep Patrick's memory alive and, in turn, help those suffering from the same disability.
Since its inception in 2004, the Patrick Xavier Owens Memorial Foundation has raised more than $100,000 for the Association for Children with Down syndrome, a school in Plainview that Patrick attended.
These fundraising efforts have left Vincent Santo in awe.
"The Patrick Xavier Owens fundraiser is one of the highlights of the year for ACDS," said Santo, director of development and corporate relations for the ACDS. "I have watched [Alan] dedicate himself to this cause with great passion, while balancing his work and growing family commitments. I am truly in awe of what he has accomplished on ACDS' behalf." But on Saturday, this year's event will take on an additional meaning. After superstorm Sandy left East Rockaway High School and its athletic department in shambles, Owens decided to use the annual event to raise money for both ACDS and his former high school’s sports program.
East Rockaway athletic director Dominick Vulpis is grateful for Owens’ efforts: "Athletics at East Rockaway has always been more than just winning — it's [about] teaching civility and life lessons learned through sport," Vulpis said."Alan, a former student-athlete, is a prime example of this expected outcome. As part of our program, we tell our athletes, ‘What goes around, comes around’ in life and it's important to pay things forward for the good of our community. As we continue to rebound [from superstorm Sandy], love continues to repay our district." Saturday’s events will begin with a three-on-three coed basketball tournament at East Rockaway High School at 10:30 a.m., followed by a Disney character party at 12:30 p.m. and conclude with a reception at the Coral House in Baldwin at 7 p.m. "This is a very special day that my family and I look forward to each year — celebrating the life of Patrick with all of our friends and family," said Owens, who was born and raised in East Rockaway along with seven brothers and a sister. "This will be the first year that the foundation will be donating to two separate great schools that have both played major roles in my family's lives over the past 25 years." Santo said the funds received from the Patrick Xavier Memorial Foundation have helped more than 1,000 families — from early childhood through adulthood — suffering from a variety of developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism. And due to a shortfall of government funding, the Patrick Xavier Memorial Foundation has helped to keep ACDS afloat. "Government funding has been held flat for many years and does not fully cover the cost of providing educational and therapy services to our children," Santo said. "ACDS could not survive without the generosity of supporters like the Owens family and their friends. [They] recognize that our staff cares deeply for every family that we serve." For more information, to purchase tickets or make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.acds.org.
Brian T. Dessart is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician and an FDNY firefighter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @briandessart.