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Cortlandt Resident Heads Fundraiser for Cancer

Debbie Costello, adviser to the Hen Hud Leos Club , says she hopes to achieve three goals with this year's Stay-Awake-A-Thon. The overnight fundraiser aims to celebrate those who have survived cancer, lend support and encouragement to those who have been diagnosed and bring success to future patients.

“It’s really important to have this kind of event because there are so many people affected by cancer who need to know they are not alone,” said the Buchanan resident.

Teams of eight or more friends, family members or co-workers are invited to spend the wee hours of the morning learning about cancer and how to stay healthy. Proceeds from the Stay-Awake-A-Thon will be donated to the Hudson Valley Hospital Cancer Treatment Center and Happiness is Camping , a free summer camp for kids battling the disease.

“It will bring teachers, students, members of the Leo club and other community members together to support one another,” Costello added.

Costello says the Hudson Valley Hospital Cancer Treatment Center’s close proximity to Westchester has made it an invaluable resource for local residents since it opened this past fall. A partnership with a community-minded organization like the Leos Club, the youth chapter of the Hen Hud Lions Club, was a “natural fit.”

“It’s now a facility right in our own backyard,” she said. “People won’t have to go all the way to New York City for treatment.”

Doing her part to serve people affected by the disease is an ongoing mission for Costello. In 2010, the Hen Hud Leos Club helped launch a Local Community Cancer Fund to help families pay cancer-related medical bills.

At last year’s Stay-Awake-A-Thon, $25,000 was raised for the fund. She says that taking care of those expenses is a “big weight off people’s minds."

Interested in creating a team to participate in the Stay-Awake-A-Thon this May? Head over to the library at Hendrick Hudson High School on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. for an introductory meeting. You can also check out the Hen Hud Leos Club website for more information.