The second annual Great Neck Student Aid Fund’s Walk for Education on Sunday drew greater participation than last year, organizers said.
Though totals have not yet been calculated, the event outside Village Hall in Great Neck Plaza surpassed the fundraising totals of over $5,000 from last year with dozens more walkers, according to the president of the organization, Elise Kestenbaum.
“This year’s walk was definitely the best one yet,” said Kestenbaum. “Walking in our village while sending smart, talented men and women to college who may not have been able to do so without our financial support is something we love doing.”
The nonprofit organization is celebrating its 88th year, providing scholarships to students in the Great Neck community that require support to pay for a portion of their first year of college.
Kestenbaum thanked other board members of the organization, Caryn Shaufeld, Karen Wasserman, Kate Sazer, Amy Frankel and Candy Gould, as well as Jill Monoson, who works closely in planning and organizing these events.
Political figures such as Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso and Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin were present for the walk. The organization received two citations from Birnbaum and Lopatkin.
Also in attendance was Michael Weinstock, a Great Neck volunteer firefighter and lawyer who was a past beneficiary of the scholarship.
“The event was tremendous, and everyone had a great time,” he said.
Participants gathered outside the plaza doors to prepare for the stroll around the village around 9:30 a.m. Before starting, Weinstock spoke to the crowd, describing how the organization was a catalyst in helping him pursue higher education.
”I promised myself that when I spoke to the crowd and talked about the huge impact that the scholarship had on my life, I wouldn’t become emotional,” he said. “I broke that promise in about 2.5 seconds.”
Weinstock went on to say, “Thanks to the Great Neck Student Aid Fund I was able to go to college and law school. I will always be appreciative that the GNSAF was there for me – during such a crucial time in my life.”
The foundation aims for events, such as the walk, to engage and educate the community on its mission, as well as highlighting that not everyone has the financial resources that others may possess.
“This event is an important step for us to put ourselves on the map,” said Kestenbaum. “Thank you for supporting us today and keep on doing something. There are so many more young people to help with their college journeys.”