A Local Organization Making a World of Difference
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I’m honored to be a part of the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, a small, Long Island-based organization making an impact on research for pancreatic cancer—a devastating disease that more than 64,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this year alone.
In 2010, I served as the Commodore of the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, and I recognized the importance of showing gratitude to our local Port Jefferson community and forging a commitment to a worthy cause that had affected our members. I formed a committee to brainstorm how we could do both, and from that discussion, the Village Cup Regatta was created. The Regatta is an annual boat race that pits teams from the Village of Port Jefferson against Northwell Health’s Mather Hospital Palliative Care Center, a Port Jefferson-based facility offering patients and their families the support and care they need while dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses. Half of the money raised from the event is donated to Mather’s Palliative Care Center, and the other half is donated to the Lustgarten Foundation to support groundbreaking research that’s leading the way in transforming pancreatic cancer into a curable disease.
In addition to being a severely underfunded disease, pancreatic cancer is very personal to me; I’ve lost friends and clients to this horrible cancer. Two former Port Jefferson Yacht Club Commodores lost their lives to pancreatic cancer, and the Club’s Recording Secretary passed away just six months after she was diagnosed. Their passing shook our small, close-knit club, and motivated us to honor their legacies by supporting the Lustgarten Foundation’s research efforts.
I’m so grateful club members fully embraced our inaugural event in 2010. Like me, they felt an overwhelming sense of purpose and enthusiasm for giving back. As an event-planning novice, it was both intimidating and exhilarating to organize the Regatta, but with our community’s engagement, Mather Hospital’s support, and the sheer will of our entire organizing committee, the event was incredibly successful and has become an annual village tradition, held the Saturday after Labor Day.
Nearly 30 boats race in the Regatta, and the winner receives year-long bragging privileges! The event attracts so many participants every year because the Port Jefferson Yacht Club members, including myself, enjoy sharing our genuine love for boating and sailing with the community, especially with people who have never had the opportunity to experience this pastime. Also, our community is dedicated to supporting the Lustgarten Foundation and Mather Hospital and recognizes what a significant role both play in our community.
Our first event raised $34,000, and that provided the momentum we needed to make it an even bigger event in 2011, and from there, we’ve raised more money each year. Through 2022, the event has raised $856,000, and we’re grateful to have so many donors who continue to give annually because they are as committed and passionate about finding a cure for pancreatic cancer as we are. We appreciate the full support of the Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant and the participation of our Village Cup Regatta Ambassador, actor/director Ralph Macchio, whose wife works at Mather Hospital.
I remember 25 years ago when pancreatic cancer research was nearly nonexistent until the Lustgarten Foundation was established and quickly became the world’s leading private funder of the most critical research on this disease. With the Lustgarten Foundation as the catalyst, now there are thousands of researchers working exclusively to understand, diagnose, and treat pancreatic cancer, and we are honored to support an organization where 100% of every donation funds the most cutting-edge research.
I believe if someone gets sick, they deserve a fighting chance to get well and to be offered a cure. The Lustgarten Foundation started the clock on working toward a cure for pancreatic cancer by supporting the most innovative studies and forward-thinking researchers. When we organized the first Village Cup Regatta 13 years ago, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer was in the single digits. Now, thanks in large part to the dedication and diligence of the Lustgarten Foundation, that number has risen to 12%. It is humbling to think that in some small way the Port Jefferson Yacht Club played a part in this progress. While there is still so much more work to do to save patients’ lives, I’m confident the Lustgarten Foundation-funded researchers and their devoted community of supporters and donors are up to the challenge.