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Clam shucking contest raises money for cancer

Hundreds of clams were served at Surf's Out

Hundreds of clams were served at Surf's Out Restaurant of Kismet Fire Island during the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition's 17th annual clam shucking contest. (Aug. 9, 2011) Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

Nick Lo Monaco tightly wrapped his left hand in yellow duct tape as he prepared to participate in his third clam shucking contest.

Despite a large scar on his hand from last year’s contest, the Islip resident was determined to win.

“I participate in this contest to donate to the Breast Cancer Coalition,” said Lo Monaco, owner of Villa Monaco Restaurant of West Islip. “Plus, I’m not a loser, I’m a winner.”

The nonprofit West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition hosted its 17th annual Clam Shucking Contest Tuesday at Surf’s Out Restaurant on Kismet Fire Island.

In order to enter, contestants must donate $25 for a grand prize of sheer glory. The event consisted of 11 rounds of two people each rushing to be the fastest at opening 50 clams.

After placing second-to-last in 2010, Lo Monaco redeemed himself and won this year’s event.

The event, which raised $54,300 last year and had a goal of $60,000 this year, is the largest event held by the coalition to fundraise for Lend a Helping Hand, a group that donates money to women with breast cancer. Money raised by the group assists with medical bills, wigs, food and mortgages.

“We do anything we need to make their lives a little easier while they’re going through this,” said Margaret Campise, president of the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition who joined in 2006 after several of her friends were diagnosed breast cancer.

More than 1,000 people attended the event and many took part in a Chinese auction and a raffle for a 2011 Hyundai Sonata donated by Atlantic Hyundai.

Debra and Dennis Somesso, Paul and Matthew Barbara and Dean Cirella, the owners of the Fire Island-based restaurant Surf’s Out where the event was held, donated a combined $3,000 for the Sonata raffle tickets. The winners of the car were the Somesso family, who donated part of their prize, a $500 gas card, back to the coalition.

A dozen children participated in a corn husking contest where the child who ripped a corn husk off the fastest won a stuffed animal.

For the 17th year in a row, Joel Resnick, a resident of West Islip and board member of the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition, worked the car raffle booth with a smile.

In 1995, Resnick’s daughter, Marlayne Sick, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38. The coalition assisted Sick both financially and emotionally.

“This is a wonderful event and we’re giving back because the WIBCC helped us in so many ways,” Resnick said through tears as he sold his 200th ticket.

Everything from the auction baskets to the venue was donated by Surf’s Out, West Islip residents and other local restaurants with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Lend a Helping Hand.

“It’s always packed here and everyone is extremely generous to our cause,” said Laurie Monteith of West Islip, a board member of the coalition.

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