The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

From grief, fourth-grader endeavors to help others

Matthew Florio and his father, Victor, share a moment several years ago, captured in this treasured family photo. Matthew, now 9, will be honored with a Voices Against Brain Cancer Caregiver Award on Dec. 4.
 
By JOHN ROCHE

Soon after 9-year-old Matthew Florio lost his father to brain cancer last year, he told his mother that he wanted to do something to help people who were also battling the disease.

The desire to turn the tragic loss of his father into something positive led Matthew and his mom, Donna Cravotta, to Voices Against Brain Cancer, an organization aimed at finding a cure for the disease by advancing medical research, raising awareness and supporting patients and their families.

This Sunday, Matthew will not only raise funds by participating in the Join the Voices Against Brain Cancer Annual Run/Walk in Central Park but will be honored by the organization with a 2011 Caregiver Award at a ceremony the same day.

“It feels good to be able to do something that will help people with brain cancer,” said Matthew, a fourth-grader at West Patent Elementary School. “I’m happy that my friends and family want to help, too.”

Some of his friends, relatives and classmates at West Patent will join him for the run/walk on Dec. 4, taking part as “Team Matthew.” Many others from the school community, from the Bedford/Mount Kisco area and beyond have contributed financially to the team’s efforts this weekend.

“The response has been great,” Ms. Cravotta said. “People are very touched and very inspired by Matthew, and have shown their support in various ways.”

Ms. Cravotta, who owns a consulting firm in Bedford Hills, said she couldn’t be more proud of what her son is doing to help others, including those afflicted with brain cancer and their families.

“As a parent, it is so difficult to find meaning and a positive spin on an event that is so devastating in a child’s life, but Matthew decided after his father’s passing that he wanted to do something to help other people dealing with this,” she said. “From that, ‘Team Matthew’ was formed, and we hope it just grows each year to come.”

Matthew said he hopes to make this an annual event. “It would be great if I could do this every year,” he said. “I want to raise money for a cure for brain cancer, since that’s what my dad passed away from.”

When Voices Against Brain Cancer personnel learned of Matthew’s efforts to form a team and raise funds for the run/walk, as well as how he helped care for his father, Victor, during his yearlong battle with glioblastoma multiforme IV, a terminal form of brain cancer, they decided to recognize him with a Caregiver Award.

“Although it was very difficult to watch his dad’s health and well-being deteriorate before his eyes, Matthew was extraordinarily brave in the face of this debilitating disease and spent as much time with his dad as possible,” his mother said. “I’m so proud of Matthew for wanting to help people who are going through what his father and what he himself went through.”

This year’s run/walk pays tribute to Fred Lebow, the longtime organizer of the New York City Marathon, who died from brain cancer in 1994. So far, more than 7,000 participants have registered for the event, and more than $300,000 has been raised through this year’s run/walk.

Each year, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with primary or metastatic brain tumors, according to Voices Against Brain Cancer. “It would be wonderful for Matthew to be a significant part of finding a cure for this horrendous disease,” his mother said.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to “Team Matthew” can do so online at www.voicesinmotion.org/matthew.




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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

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Bedford Village

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  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

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Bedford Hills

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  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

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    294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center;
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Mount Kisco

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South Salem/Vista

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Cross River

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DECEMBER 2, 2011