Tom Meany remembers when his wife, Ellen, decided where on the South Shore she wanted to raise a family.
"She started driving around Massapequa," he said. "She picked the house and the neighborhood. . . . She said, 'This is where we want to be.' "
After more than 15 years in Massapequa, Ellen Meany, 45, was killed in March, when a car struck her as she rode her bicycle near the elementary school attended by her three children.
On Saturday, Meany's friends, relatives and the Massapequa Fire Department hosted a canoe paddle and raffle to benefit her children's education -- a reminder of why the family had moved to the village in the first place.
"She picked the right place, absolutely," said Tom Meany, 46. "It's really amazing the Massapequa community came out and did this for my wife."
The fire department has hosted the canoe paddle for 18 years. Proceeds, which in 2011 topped $40,000, typically benefit sick children.
This year, organizer Tom McCarthy said he was approached by someone from Unqua Elementary School after the accident about dedicating the money to the Meany family.
"Our department responded to it. I read it in the paper," he said. Tom Meany "has his hands full. You take a mom away from your kids, it's tough."
The firefighters muster about 50 volunteers to run the event, which includes a barbecue and rock band in addition to the raffle and two-mile canoe paddle. Participants pay a $100-per-boat entry fee, and about 120 canoes completed the course Saturday. A fundraising total wasn't immediately available.
The Meanys' friends and family worked for months recruiting raffle donations, which came from all over the South Shore. Prizes ranged from restaurant gift certificates to dog treats, to a case of Budweiser with matching lawn chairs.
"Nobody said no to me," said Michele Kemp, 43, who grew up with Ellen Meany in Wantagh. "It was more like, 'What do you need?' "
Ellen Meany's friends remembered her as a homemaker who was devoted to her children: Sean, 11; Kelly, 10; and Casey, 7.
No one has been charged in the hit-and-run accident that led to Ellen Meany's death, relatives said.