SYRACUSE, N.Y. –This fall Saint Agatha Foundation will honor the legacy of its founder, Laurie Mezzalingua, with a gala to build on its success supporting thousands of Central New York breast cancer patients.
“The Promise Continues” gala will be held on October 24 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown to raise funds to expand the foundation’s footprint while increasing awareness of its mission. Honorary co-chairs of the event are Juli Boeheim, of the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, and Dr. Santo DiFino, a retired oncologist and breast cancer survivor.
Mezzalingua was diagnosed with breast cancer and bravely fought for 11 years before passing away 10 years ago at the age of 41. While fighting her own battle, she became an advocate for others fighting the disease. As she realized firsthand the economic impact breast cancer had on patients and their families, she established The Saint Agatha Foundation to provide financial assistance for medical and personal bills, as well as household expenses, for the uninsured and underinsured. The foundation also covers a wide array of personal expenses from gas and grocery cards to utility and household bills while patients are undergoing treatment.
“Knowing Laurie personally was a gift,” Juli Boeheim said. “Her openness and care for others allowed her to connect with other patients and see the reality of the disease through their eyes. She wanted to help every breast cancer patient become a fighter, free of the financial hardships that could detract from their recovery.”
According to the American Cancer Society, a woman living in the United States has a one in eight lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is estimated that in 2019, 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. However, the disease is not limited to women; 2,670 new cases will be diagnosed in men.
For over the past decade, Saint Agatha Foundation has helped over 6,500 breast cancer patients by providing grants of over $11 million to 17 agencies, hospitals and social services throughout six counties in Central New York. In 2018 alone the foundation assisted 750 individuals and their families.
Since Mezzalingua’s passing, her mother, Kathleen Mezzalingua, has run the foundation, keeping her promise to continue her daughter’s mission.
“It has been an honor to carry on Laurie’s vision for the past 10 years,” Kathleen Mezzalingua said. “My daughter asked me to ‘help women and men who cannot afford their disease so they can focus on their treatment and healing without the added burden of worrying about their finances.’”
On October 24, The Promise Continues will help to continue this promise.
“As a professional, I saw firsthand the impact breast cancer had on my patients, both physically and emotionally,” Dr. Santo DiFino said. “With Saint Agatha’s support, my patients could focus on one thing: their own healing. Their financial challenges could be put in the hands of Saint Agatha.”
Tickets and sponsorship packages can be purchased by visiting saintagathafoundation.org and also by calling 888-878-7900.
About Saint Agatha Foundation
Saint Agatha Foundation was founded by Manlius native and breast cancer patient Laurie Mezzalingua in 2004 to provide support, comfort, and care to other breast cancer patients in the area. Saint Agatha Foundation helps individuals—particularly the under-insured and uninsured—in the Central New York area by providing financial assistance to cover a range of costs for treatment and recovery. Saint Agatha is the patron saint of breast health. For more information, please visit www.saintagathafoundation.org.