According to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society campaign coordinator Isai Fuentes, when dealing with enough solid gello to fill a small swimming pool, the best way to break up the goop is to churn it with an oar.
“We’ve been doing it for so long we have it down to a science,” Fuentes said.
The gello was used for the Long Island Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 27th annual Gello Slide benefit, held Friday at the Huntington Hilton in Melville. The event was a celebration of more than two months of fundraising efforts in the spirit of fighting children’s cancer.
Two by two, participants of all different ages took turns sliding into more than 1,500 gallons of freezing cold, red industrial gello -- as opposed to its cousin, the dessert treat Jell-O. Sliders then ran through a fire hose sprinkler, provided by the Melville Fire Department, to wash off the sticky mush.
For Mike Oshinsky, 84, a simple towel-down was all he needed.
“I know I’m going to go again,” Oshinsky said, shaking gello off his arms. Oshinsky participated in the inaugural event after being asked to sponsor a patient while he was working as a volunteer at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Oshinsky has returned to slide ever since.
In order to slide, participants had to raise at least $250 for the cause. This year, 250 people raised that, and students who participated in the society’s “Pennies for Patients” program and other outside donors were invited to go down the slide.
No two sliders were the same. Some came in costume, clad in orange prison jumpsuits, wrestling masks and wigs. Others wore custom-made T-shirts with the names of cancer victims and survivors. As each participant climbed up the slide, their personal cause was announced over a megaphone to the crowd, each sharing their story in simple terms and bringing the crowd together.
For five-year volunteer Frank Fox, 45, the event was a family affair. His son, Frank Jr., is a 10-year cancer survivor. This year was his first time participating in the event and for the father, the experience beckoned mixed emotions.
“Being at things like this, seeing the patients, it definitely brings back memories,” Frank Fox Sr. said. “But when you see everyone there rallying, who they’re cheering for, it’s wonderful.”