Charlie’s Champions Raise Close to $70,000 for Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids


Sometimes it takes more than one village.

To support Charlie’s Champions – a foundation created by Tara and John Schmitt in the name of their son, Charlie, who is currently a patient at Winthrop-University Hospital’s Cancer Center for Kids (CCFK) – almost 300 people including Garden City residents and their friends and family from Manhattan, Manhasset and points east participated in the Foundation’s legendary “Rage in the Cage” paddle tennis tournament.

During the weekend of March 21, the Herculean efforts of Charlie’s Champions Foundation friends and supporters raised close to $70,000 to benefit the music therapy program and the research program at Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids. This two-day expression of community spirit featured a junior paddle play competition (“Underage in the Cage”) Friday evening, bustling with 125 young boys and girls, and an adult version of the “Rage” with 60 nationally ranked and novice mixed doubles teams competing Saturday.

When all was said and done, Alex Bancila/Michelle Griffith defeated Mark Ruppert/Liz Jaffe in a well-played three setter in the adult “A” competition and Dan Englander/Aileen Pappas were victorious over Kevin and Eileen Dillon in the “B” competition.

The event culminated with its signature tent party featuring CCFK music therapist Glenn Schifano and His Boy Elroy Band, accompanied by Charlie Schmitt on percussion, guest rocker Bobby Menges on guitar and songstress/CCFK staffer Krista Cirillo who provided awesome musical accompaniment.

“The music therapy program at CCFK uses the extraordinary power of music to diminish stress and relieve pain. It truly is transformative,” affirmed Schifano.

The highlight of the event came when John Schmitt took the stage, and looking out over the assembled crowd of families, players, sponsors, fans and friends, conveyed his family’s heartfelt thanks for the magnificent outpouring of support. “We are truly humbled by your generosity,” he said. “As you can see, your contributions to Charlie’s Champions really do make a difference. Your gifts bring tangible help to the Cancer Center for Kids and to the children who are treated there each and every day. The amazing thing is this remarkable care is right here in our own backyard.”

The Cancer Center for Kids is part of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Winthrop-University Hospital. You can learn more about Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids at To see more pictures of “Rage in the Cage” 2009, visit the Charlie’s Champions website at Charlie’s Champions is grateful to the following sponsors, donors and friends who generously provided their participation and support:

Gold and Silver Sponsors

Dennis and Norma Tslentis

Neal and Peggy Griffin

The Andy Foundation

National Land Tenure

The Haeffner Family

Lane Furniture – The Burke Family

The Cassaro Family

Bob Considine—Paddle Pro

The Dehler Family

The Dillemeier Family

Hallen Construction – The Poole Family

The Reddington Family

IDP Consulting – The Sperry Family

Tim and Jen Schmitt

The Thornton Family

Hut Captains

Martin Dehler

Jim Healy

Pat Maloney

Food and Special Services

Abbey Rent-all

Adelphi Deli

Garden City Pizza

Duane Hayden


Raffle Donors

Marty Dehler, Jr.

The Reddington Family

The Schmitt Family

Special Friends

Cancer Center for Kids Volunteers:

Nicole Almeida

Krista Cirillo

Kerri Donohue

Glenn Schifano & His Boy Elroy

Linda Sweeney

The Cherry Valley Country Club

Bobby Menges

Liz Menges

Congratulations to tournament winners and organizers:

Tournament Winners

Alex Bancila and Michelle Griffith

Dan Englander and Aileen Pappas

“Underage” Organizers

David Asaiwa

Alex Bancila

Liz Jaffe

Sally McLaughlin

Jen Schmitt

Taylor Stanton

Sue Tarzian

“TJ the DJ”

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