Great Neck North High School students Daniela Vazquez and Carly Campbell hosted a fundraiser, Laps for Ray, sponsored by Coaches vs. Cancer, at the Great Neck North Middle School pool on Dec. 18.
The event honored Village of Great Neck Deputy Mayor Raymond Plakstis, a two-time chief of the Alert Fire Company, the fourth generation to operate Doray Enterprises and the father of former Great Neck North students, Ryan and Tyler.
As the result of being a 9/11 first responder, Plakstis is currently battling stage IV stomach cancer, “the third-leading cancer from 9/11,” according to family friend Dee Campbell, the mother of organizer Carly Campbell, whose husband grew up in Great Neck with Plakstis and their families have been friends for 40 years. “Ray got sick while helping others,” she said.
“I got involved with this event because I’ve always wanted to do something like this to raise money, but never really had a motive,” said event organizer Daniela Vazquez. “Then, when my best friend, Carly, told me about how Ray got sick, it’s was like everything clicked and Carly and I began to do all the work to make sure it happened. It is the best thing we have ever done.”
The funds raised will go toward research to help find a cure for stomach cancer. The event included team swim, open swim, relays and pool games, as well as an outdoor barbecue with music.
“The event went amazing,” said Vazquez. “We raised more than $10,000.”
During the fundraiser, Ray’s family cooked, and food was donated by Mangia Bene, Gino’s Pizza and Tek Prime. “I’m so thankful to everyone who came and to Tek Prime, Gino’s and Mangia Bene for the food they donated,” said a grateful Vazquez.
“We were overwhelmed by the support of all of the kids who swam for Ray, as well the residents who put donations in,” said Dee Campbell. “Our original goal was $10,000 and, since we exceeded our goal, we’ve doubled it—and I know we can raise it for Ray.”
Merchandise, including T-shirts ($20), Koozies ($5) and bracelets ($2) are still available. Donations can be dropped off at Doray gas station during the day at 99 Steamboat Rd. or at the Alert Benevolent Association at 68 Steamboat Rd. any night after 5 p.m.
To read more about the Plakstis family’s contribution to the community, see “Santa Visits Great Neck House.”
Read more about the fundraiser, “Coaches Vs. Cancer To Hold Laps For Ray Fundraiser.”