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Fran and Bill Monti, co-chairmen of the Westchester Walk to Defeat ALS, present a scholarship check to Zeke Rogen, a 2016 graduate of John Jay High School in Cross River, NY. “The scholarship is given to a person who expressed a desire to enter the medical profession or who has faced the challenges of a life threatening disease,” said Bill.
This is the 15th year of the scholarship in memory of the Monti’s son, William Glenn Monti, who died of ALS and was also a graduate of John Jay high school. Zeke’s father has been living with ALS for the past 10 years.
Steve Marino’s sister, Lorraine Darienzo, said that Steve never lost his sense of humor even after he was diagnosed with ALS. That’s why he’d appreciate the name that his friends and family picked for their Westchester Walk to Defeat ALS team: Win The Fight, or as they like to abbreviate it, WTF. It’s a phrase Steve would often mouth when he got frustrated trying to communicate his needs after he lost his voice.
A Bronx, NY native who worked as an auditor for Liberty Mutual, Steve married his childhood sweetheart, Janet. The couple have an enormous network of friends who helped the family during his illness and continue to show their support through Team WTF. “It takes a village to take care of someone with ALS,” said Lorraine. That group of friends and relatives return every year to make Team WTF one of the biggest and most successful Walk to Defeat ALS teams in Westchester.
Lorraine lives in California but is still able to serve as team captain. She organizes Team WTF with the help of co-captain, Robert Caccavo, Steve’s high school buddy and her older brother Jack, who lives in Connecticut. “Lorraine is a shining example of a team captain and an amazing advocate for the Walks,” said Brett Murphy, Manager of Fundraising and Special Events for The Chapter.
The generosity of their friends has helped propel Team WTF to become the top fundraising team at the Westchester Walk to Defeat ALS for the past three years, raising over $100,000 in total. More than a hundred people walk with them every year. Lorraine attributes some of that success to the support she has received from the Chapter’s Walk Department in setting up the team’s Walk fundraising page. “The people who work there are wonderful,” said Lorraine who admits she isn’t technically savvy. “I feel comfortable calling them for anything.”
Steve, who died in 2012 at 55-years-old, was an athlete who excelled at a variety of sports. Watching him weaken from ALS was one of the most difficult parts of the disease for his family. That has become the driving force of Team WTF to continue to raise money for ALS patients. “We don’t want anyone to go through what we went through,” Lorraine said.
To join a Walk to Defeat ALS go to www.alswalks.org or Linda Berman, Senior Walk Program Manager at (212) 720-3042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.