Stuart Hayim was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1979 at age 32 and hospitalized at the Don Monti Division of Oncology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Five years later, he beat the cancer and has since competed in offshore powerboat races to give back to the center’s Don Monti Memorial Foundation.
“I dreamt of engraving the doctors’ names onto the boat, but it evolved into putting stickers with donors’ names onto the boat,” said Hayim, 65, of Sands Point, a luxury car dealer on Long Island. “I’ve consistently supported the foundation because I wouldn’t be here without their help.”
Hayim plans to get back into the water and race around Long Island next Tuesday to break the record he set in 1989. That record stood until another Long Islander, Joe Cibellis, broke the record last September with a time of three hours, five minutes -- one minute faster than Hayim’s feat.
Billy Frenz, of the Connecticut-based National Power Boat Association, said his group is the sanctioning organization that will chronicle the attempt, which encompasses a 271-mile course.
Along with the goal to grab the best time, Hayim is raising money through sponsors for the Cold Spring Harbor-based foundation, which was founded in 1972 after Tita and Joseph Monti lost their 16-year-old son Don to myeloblastic leukemia.
Over a 10-year period starting in the mid-1980s, Hayim won 83 races, three national championships and four world championships, all to support the foundation and feed his appetite for speed.
“I’ve raised money for cancer research, provided hope and inspiration, while winning a few races,” Hayim said. “A friend of mine, who was sick with cancer and ran a 10k race years ago, changed my life. He gave me hope and inspiration, and racing is my way of giving that back.”
Hayim will navigate around the Island in his 48-foot catamaran he nicknamed “Recovery,” but this time covered in stickers with the names of those who donated adhered to his boat.
He plans to leave at 6 a.m. from Manhasset Bay Marina in Port Washington with his racing partner John Tomlinson, heading northeast, passing Orient Point and Montauk Point lighthouses. From there, they will head southwest past Freeport, the Rockaways and Brooklyn, go under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and toward the East River. They will pass Governors, Roosevelt and Rikers islands, go under the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, to the Long Island Sound and back to where they began.
Tomlinson has known Hayim for 25 years, sometimes competing against him, sometimes servicing his boats.
“I’m looking forward to this,” Tomlinson said. “With recent offshore races, they end up being more like sprint races, so it will be fun to do an endurance type of event. Our plan is to run it somewhat aggressively, but conservatively so that the boat finishes.”
Caroline Monti Saladino, president of the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation, said Hayim has already raised a significant amount of funds to support patient care, cancer research and education.
“Throughout the years, with everything he does, he always keeps us in mind,” she said. “He always says if it wasn’t for your mother and father I wouldn't be here. Here he is with a family, living life to the fullest.”
To make a donation, visit www.breakingrecords.org. Hayim will continue to collect donations until Sept. 12.
Above: Stuart Hayim