The annual Archangel Michael Tom Zangas Memorial Lung Cancer Foundation 5K run/1K walk will be holding its annual walk/run on Saturday, Oct. 26, at North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington. In the past year, the foundation has raised $80,000 and contributed more than $450,000 to lung cancer research efforts.
The foundation was started in 2011 by Leonard and Penelope Zangas of Manhasset, whose son, Tom Zangas, passed away from lung cancer after battling it for two years. Tom, a clinical psychologist, was an active 40-year-old triathlete who never smoked.
Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the world, claiming 1.76 million lives each year, according to the World Health Organization.
“Everybody has cells in their body and it was a cell that went awry that caused the cancer,” Leonard said, talking about his son’s case of lung cancer. “It wasn’t anything genetic and it wasn’t anything he breathed. He was a psychologist working with deaf children and people. A lot of people come down with it for no apparent reason and have never smoked in their entire life.”
Leonard has been an advocate for early screenings for lung cancer and, through his foundation, he has been able to provide the funding for such screenings.
The foundation looks to raise $80,000 from this year’s event, and the proceeds will go toward two grants in the lung cancer screening and research fields. A grant of $50,000 will go to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, where the money raised will go towards two specific areas. One focuses on understanding ways to improve clinical practice for management of side effects for lung cancer patients receiving drugs that stop the spread of the cancer. The other initiative targets the disparity in treatment and care of low socio-economic status populations, such as racial and ethnic groups and those living in rural areas, which are disproportionately affected by the disease.
The Tom Zangas Memorial Lung Cancer Foundation is also working directly with doctors that specialize in the lung cancer research field. The foundation is hoping to fulfill a $30,000 grant to Dr. Abraham Chachoua, a doctor at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health, that will go towards lung cancer screening for underserved populations. A recently opened facility at NYU Langone’s Brooklyn Campus by Perlmutter Cancer Center in Sunset Park will be able to provide screenings to patients thanks to this grant funded by the foundation.
“Penny and I are proud of the contributions the foundation has made to lung cancer research,” Leonard said. “The generosity of our supporters combined with the magnificent research practices of the grant recipients are helping to make great strides in the treatment of this devastating illness. This year, the two recipients of grants are continuing worthwhile efforts to identify and treat individuals who lack the resources to seek and obtain effective treatment.”
The event is expected to attract more than 200 runners and walkers this year. The participants are also allowed to have their dogs involved in the event and times will be tracked using electronic devices. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the race starts at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 26.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to my son. He devoted his life to helping other people,” said Leonard.