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Former Giant Carl Banks honored by Boys & Girls Club

During Friday night's event, the Boys & Girls

During Friday night's event, the Boys & Girls Club honored former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks and North Shore Schools Superintendent Edward Melnick. (April 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

Mikey Zangari's family struggled financially when he was a child.

So at the age of 8, Zangari joined the North Shore Boys & Girls Club and found a creative outlet, meeting new friends and playing sports.

Now, the 20 year-old is the club's youth director.

"In elementary school I was going through a rough time with the family," said Zangari, of Glen Cove. "There was really no one to turn to.”

The club’s counselors helped him get involved in sports, bringing back the love has for them.

To coincide with National Boys & Girls Club Week, the club held its third annual Casino Night fundraiser Friday at the Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove.

Russ Launer, secretary of the club’s board of directors, said about 150 people attended the event, but he was unsure how much the event raised.

“I am often asked what the Boys & Girls Club is,” said Executive Director Susan P. Wisnewski. “Is it for poor kids? is it for troubled youth? Is it a place where affluent kids like to spend time? My answer is always the same, yes.”

Founded in 1996, the club serves over 600 children in grades K-12 annually, providing tutoring, sports, concerts and summer camps.

During Friday night’s event, the Boys & Girls Club honored former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks and North Shore Schools Superintendent Edward Melnick.

Before he became a two-time Super Bowl Champion, Banks spent some of his youth involved in sports and other activities with a local Boys & Girls Club.

"When I was a kid, parents encouraged you to do more, we didn't have the distraction of video games, so the fact that the Boys & Girls Club is so active still is a testament to their program," Banks said. "It is a cause that I'm very attached to and this event is great because it's going to allow us to give back in a fun way."

Attendees spent the night eating, and gambled taking their chances at BlackJack and other card games, in between bidding on sports memorabilia, jewelry and getaway trips at the live, silent and Chinese auctions.

“Casino night is more like a fundraiser for us to show everyone that the North Shore Boys & Girls Club is not just a place you drop your kids off at, it’s a place that has value,” Zangari said. “We would like you to support us to support them.”

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